At the recent Women Deliver 2019 Conference in Vancouver, Canada – one of the largest conferences on women’s rights – a session was organized on women issues in humanitarian settings in the Arab states region.
Rabat – The panel of speakers included Her Royal Highness Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan, Dr Shible Sahbani (regional adviser on reproductive health, United Nations Population Fund), Dr Daniela Ligiero, executive director and CEO of Together for Girls, Ms Berangere Boell-Yousfi, representative UNFPA, Libya, Ms Fadoua Bakhadda, executive director, Moroccan Family Planning Association, and Ms Ayah Al-Oballi, senior officer at Mercy Corps’ Regional Centre for the Advancement of Adolescent Girls, Jordan.
Each of the speakers delved into the double discrimination that Arab women face in the region on account of both conflict and social conservatism. In fact, such is the plight of many Arab women that things like sexual and reproductive health and rights are well beyond their reach. And the reality of conflict-ridden and conflict-affected states means that many Arab women are constantly living in insecurity and being pushed into power-asymmetry situations. Thus the incidents of child marriage and survival sex being reported from places like Syria and refugee camps in Lebanon and Turkey.
In this regard, I spoke with one of the panel speakers, Ms Fadoua Bakhadda of the Moroccan Family Planning Association, on women’s issues in Morocco, including those of migrants to the country. Here are the excerpts:
What has been the process since Marrakech hosted the Global Forum on Migration and Development last year?
Since the migration forum, Morocco has been hosting more and more migrants. It is welcome that the ministry of migration developed PPP (public-private partnerships) actions to respond to this situation. Investing more on migrants’ inclusion and supporting healthcare system for migrants and refugees are the needs of the hour.
What is the overall status of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in Morocco?
Concerning SRHR in Morocco, we do have many challenges. The abortion law is not updated, even if the government launched a reform of it in 2015. The new Gender Based Violence law that just came in at the end of 2018 is not as effective as it should be. Child marriage is still a big challenge. The poor services for women and statistics are alarming. We have a lot of work that remains to be done.
The Moudawana was enacted in 2004, what has been the progress and what more needs to be done?
Concerning the Moudawana, some good advancements have been made. Now Morocco recognizes the infant of a Moroccan woman as Moroccan, and we are doing fine concerning child rights in the family. However, divorce is still high and many people haven’t understood the Moudawana well, and women are rebelling against everything sometimes.
Has the training of female preachers or morchidates contributed to women’s empowerment in Morocco and can they be agents of change for women, especially in rural Morocco?
For morchidates, look we do have some ones that are really conservative, but most of them are doing their best to change women’s minds. We still have a lot to do because the education system of those religious leaders is mainly based on religion and some soft skills. They are not well knowledgeable about women’s needs and human rights
What are your organization’s future plans?
My organization’s future plan is to sustain existing feminist movements in the MENA region to empower women through education, access to SRHR and humanitarian aid.