“It is impossible to conceive of an active participation of women in society without upsetting mentalities and changing ... the stereotypes of society.”
Rabat – The Moroccan Minister of Solidarity, Social Development and Family, Jamila El Moussali, said Saturday that the lockdown period has shown the valuable role that women play in Moroccan society and in fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus.
During a virtual meeting about “The role of women in the reconstruction of the Arab world’s cultural roadmap for the post-coronavirus crisis” on May 9, the minister stressed the importance of seizing the opportunities that the pandemic offers–”despite its harmful impacts”–to create a better future for women, according to a ministry press release.
The Arab Organization for Education, Culture and Science (ALECSO) initiated the meeting.
The minister stressed that the crisis is a chance to reexamine cultural norms and build a culture that better facilitates Moroccan women’s socio-economic progress and contributions to society.
“This transformation that the world … [is] experiencing should have a positive impact on the post-crisis period to review mentalities and establish new behaviors,” said the minister. El Moussali noted that empowering women socio-economically requires great cultural support, said the source.
El Moussali also said that it is impossible to establish women’s active participation in society “without shaking up mentalities and changing the negative image of women in the media,” as well as societal stereotypes.
According to the minister, realizing this type of reform will require solid economic programs and legislation. She also stressed Morocco has a long history of taking steps to empower its women.
El Moussali highlighted Moroccan women’s increased socio-economic participation after the country adopted the Moudawana, or Family Code, in 2004. The minister also cited the National Integrated Program for Women’s Economic Empowerment (PNIAEF).
Women against COVID-19
On the humanitarian level, Moroccan midwives have played a major role in supporting pregnant women as part of the first phase of the SALAMA Operation by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The operation’s main objective is to distribute medical and hygiene kits as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus. Participating NGOs include the Moroccan Midwives Organization and the National Organization of Midwives of Morocco.
The first days of Morocco’s state of emergency witnessed the appearance of the female caid Houria. She featured in a video that went viral on social media, committing to raise awareness among inhabitants of the Safi region about the spread of the virus.
The region’s caid used simplified language to address inhabitants of all descripts. Her dedication in the face of her concerns has earned her tribute and respect from Moroccans.
“Women! keep your children home. Stay home. Children! bring out your books and study. Visit the websites where your lessons are available and study. Learn new languages,” the caid cries on her loudspeaker microphone in the video.
Women also comprise a large portion of Morocco’s nursing staff, playing an important role in the medical frontline fight against the virus. Nurses generally face more exposure to patients, meaning they are at greater risk of infection.
Morocco’s government and population continue to laud the dedication of all medical personnel, including its courageous nurses.
Addressing domestic violence
Among the government’s efforts in fighting the spread of COVID-19, El Moussali underlined Morocco’s measures to shield and assist women subjected to domestic violence, which has witnessed a global increase during pandemic confinement.
Between March 20 and April 20, the first month of the lockdown, Moroccan prosecutors across the country registered 892 complaints of physical, sexual, economic, and psychological abuse of women.
Morocco launched prosecutions for 148 of the complaints, while additional cases may go to court pending investigations.
In an April 30 press release, the president of public prosecution, Mohamed Abdennabaoui, called for the activation of existing platforms to receive domestic violence complaints. He also urged concerned institutions to focus on complaints regarding violence against women, “giving them importance and priority.”
According to the statement, the prosecution chief also asked for more legal measures to tackle special cases, including the provision of special units in public prosecution offices to deal with domestic violence.
He also asked prosecutors to continue monitoring statistics on violence against women.
“I ask you to give them the necessary attention, implement them with due diligence, and notify me of the results of their implementation and the problems that confront you,” Abdennabaoui said.