Mapping the Women's Movement Through A Moroccan Lens

An Overview Of Women’s Rights

Moroccan women have an impressive history of successfully coming together to push for reform, by exercising their individual power to push for more broad-based social change. Women gained the right to vote and run for office in 1963. Morocco ratified the CEDAW in 1993, with reservations on some provisions.


Since gaining independence from the French in 1956, the Moroccan government had different transformations over the years, from an autocratic dictatorship with limited freedoms and excessive use of force, to a constitutional monarchy in its current avatar. This system grants ultimate powers to the King as the purveyor of state and religion. A  council of judges and religious scholars provide legal guidance on interpretation of religious text, and a parliament elected by the entrusted with governorship.

Against this backdrop, the women’s movement in Morocco draws its strength from being political in nature, particularly in pushing for socialist reform. It has a dynamic track record of coalition building that has enabled it to push for making women’s rights a critical agenda of human rights organizations, political parties, development associations and with regional women’s organizations, including with the Maghreb countries of Algeria and Tunisia.

A recent historic victory for the Moroccan women’s movement is the passing of the Moudawana or the new family law in 2004. King Mohamed VI announced the reform of the Moudawana, or the official Family Code, which dictates the roles and relationships between men and women within the family. As an attempt to find a balance between the perspectives of the more conservative Islamic scholars and progressive women's groups, this reformed code significantly improved the legal status of women.

Among the salient reforms the Moudawana brought about include setting the minimum age of marriage for women and men (raised to 18), allowing women to access divorce by mutual consent, and greater restrictions on the practice of polygamy. While these major reforms have been applauded by feminists in Morocco and elsewhere, the women’s movement is still hard at work to ensure that it is being implemented and becomes public knowledge, and to advocate for additional legal changes. Recently, ADFM (highlighted below) has launched the campaign Equality Without Reservation, a regional campaign to compel the government to respect all the rights enshrined in the CEDAW.

As community members, activists, and leaders, Moroccan women continue to work together in changing and challenging the socio-economic status quo. Find out more about two of the several groups that the GFW team visited, who are steering the Moroccan feminist movement."

Association El Amane pour le Développement de la Femme
Association el Amane pour le Développement de la Femme [The Amane Association for the Development of Woman] was founded in 2002 by a group of young women in Sidi Youssef Ben Ali, a disenfranchised neighborhood in Marrakech. Through a combination of literacy workshops, training, and advocacy, the group enables women to challenge domestic violence, a pernicious issue that impacts a large number of Moroccan women in both rural and urban areas.

The group works for the rights of among the most marginalized women in Marrakech, including girls at risk of sexual abuse, trafficking, forced prostitution and enslavement, and those forced into domestic work. According to Amnesty International-Morocco, girls  and women from rural areas are employed as domestic help in urban areas and they are  frequently subjected to extreme exploitation characterized by long hours, very low pay and physical abuse by employers.

An interesting aspect of Moroccan women’s organizing. These El Amane also uses is the resource of listening centers. These centers offer counseling on divorce, domestic violence, alimony, neglect and other crucial issues.

The Association Democratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM):
Since its inception in 1985, the Association Democratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM), has been one of the most significant actors in building and strengthening the women’s movement in Morocco. It is one of the premier advocacy organizations, using campaigns and coalitions as important strategies to engender change in law and society. Over the years, ADFM has successfully formed dynamic networks of women within civil society and governmental institutions, both regionally and internationally, including the Printemps d’Egalité, ANARUZ, the Collectif 95 Maghreb-Egalité, and most recently the Coalition Egalité sans Reserve. 

ADFM works on reforming current Moroccan laws and policy that are discriminatory against women, including on issues of personal status, labor, criminal, election, citizenship and public employment laws. ADFM played a crucial role in enabling the Moudawana Family Law to be passed. They are currently working on ensuring its implementation, reforming the labor code, the penal code and the citizenship law and are also working on a crucial equality campaign that seeks to compel the government to remove reservations on CEDAW. Through a dynamic coalition, ADFM has also addressed issues of maternal mortality, and improving Moroccan women’s health and access to abortion.

As of 2002, there were 34 women in the Moroccan legislature. ADFM thus also works to increase women’s inclusion in political processes and in positions of decision-making in the political, economic and social sector – currently targeting a 30 percent quota for women in political parties and the Parliament (at the current level of participation, Moroccan women constitute 10 percent of the Parliament). The group uses advocacy, consciousness raising, direct action, social services and socialization as strategies to achieve these goals.


GFW Fact Sheet On Morocco

To date, Global Fund has supported 27 groups in the country to the tune of over $500,000;

Nine are rural women’s organizations; an additional nine work nationally including mountainous and rural areas.

This summer, a band of GFW staff together with three donors, undertook a field trip to Morocco. Led by the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) program team, the trip had a dual purpose of strengthening relationships with our grantees and advisors there, and also to provide a platform for our generous donors to engage more fully with the ongoing conversations about women’s rights both in Morocco and regionally.

Cities Visited:Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Rabat, Fez

Groups Visited:

  • The Amane Association for the Development of Women, Marrakech
  • Association Democratique des Femmes du Maroc, Rabat
  • Association Theatre Aquarium, Rabat
  • Association Oxygene, OuarzazatThe Democratic League for the Rights of Women, Ouarzazate
  • Initiatives pour la Protection des Droits la Femme, Fez
  • Association Synergie Civique, Rabat


Other Resources:






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