Despite some constitutional guarantees of equality, women's rights under Moroccan criminal and civil codes continue to be inferior to those of men, particularly in the areas of family law and personal status. Procedural obstacles in legal proceedings in cases involving women's rights are often insurmountable. Even when legal protections exist, cultural norms, tradition, high illiteracy rates, and lack of knowledge of their legal rights may prevent women from invoking their rights or reporting crimes against them, such as rape, child abuse, sexual exploitation and domestic violence.
Since the late 1980s, many women's advocacy organizations and local development associations have emerged to combat violence against women, gender-based legal and cultural discrimination, under-representation of women in government and the economic sector, and illiteracy. In March 2000, IHRLG opened our office in Rabat to train and collaborate with members of these organizations to
- Promote awareness and knowledge of legal rights among women in underserved regions;
- Develop networks of urban and rural advocacy NGOs and local development associations in rural and under-served areas;
- Ensure a broader spectrum of participation in women's groups; and
- Expand international advocacy by Moroccan women.
IHRLG enhances Moroccan women's awareness and understanding of their legal rights under national and international human rights law through a comprehensive legal literacy training program. Our primary training tools are a legal literacy for women program manual, developed in partnership with 15 Moroccan women's advocacy groups and local development associations, and an illustrated guide to women's voting rights and elections, developed in partnership with local organizations and produced by the British Council (Morocco).
To help cultivate the leadership and advocacy skills of women's rights activists in underserved areas and build networks and coalitions between rural and urban organizations, the IHRLG Morocco team mentors and partners with a designated 'community liaison' at a women's advocacy NGO in Tangiers, a local development association in Ain Leuh and local associations in the Tansift-El Haouz (Marrakech) region. IHRLG community liaisons receive regular issue-based training on interacting with local administrative and justice systems, integrating international human rights standards and mechanisms into local advocacy efforts, and documenting and addressing human rights concerns in their home communities (such as the increasing number of girls and young women at risk of sexual abuse, slavery, forced labor and trafficking). Community liaisons, in turn, train members of their respective organizations and partner with IHRLG in implementing legal literacy and women's rights advocacy initiatives.
We also facilitate access to information by training Moroccan activists in campaigning techniques, strategic communication and Internet-activism; administering an e-mail listserv on international women's rights issues; and operating a multi-media, multi-lingual resource center.
Click on the links below to learn more about IHRLG activities in Morocco
Cultivating legal literacy among illiterate and semi-literate women
Mentoring activists from underserved areas in addressing women's rights concerns
Training lawyers and activists in applying international human rights mechanisms locally
Facilitating NGO access to information and use of the Internet for organizing and advocacy