In the context of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month in the U.S., Deputy Chief of Mission for U.S. Embassy Rabat, Judith Chammas hosted a film screening event around the theme of women and political representation on March 14. It featured the documentary “14 Women”, about the historic 109th Congress which had an unprecedented number of women Senators at the time, including the current Secretary of State. In attendance were women parliamentarians, city councilors, heads of major women’s organizations, academics and other influential Moroccan women. The film demonstrated some of the universal challenges and opportunities facing women in politics. It was screened for the first time (with subtitles) before an Arabic-speaking audience. Following the film, participants engaged in a lively discussion on this top-of-mind issue among Moroccan women given the recent national elections as well as upcoming local elections. This was the ideal occasion to highlight a wide range of U.S. Government initiatives supporting women in Morocco and more particularly, their active participation in public life.
Morocco has taken a number of steps to increase and enhance women’s political involvement in recent months. Most notably, the 2011 constitutional revision features an explicit promotion of gender equity, in which women are guaranteed unprecedented civic, social, and political equality with men. The 2011 electoral laws stipulated a 15% quota for women elected to the Lower Chamber of the bicameral parliament (60 out of 395 seats). However, the new PJD led government includes only one female minister, a setback from 2007 when the government had seven female ministers. Today, gender inequality is still widely prevalent. Compared to men, women suffer from higher rates of illiteracy and lower rates of political and socio-economic participation. This underscores the fragility of Morocco’s achievements and highlights the need for their continued and strengthened support.