Morocco’s Islamists modify gender equality plan
RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Morocco’s Islamist-led government on Friday presented a new European Union-funded plan to promote women’s rights and equality, but without earlier measures to legalize abortion and support single mothers.
The plan, which is funded with 45 million euros (about $58 million) from the EU, contains 150 measures to improve women’s equality in the health and education sectors, and access to government employment, Minister of Women, Family and Social Development Bassima Hakkaoui said.
Her predecessor, Nouzha Skalli, told The Associated Press that an earlier draft of the plan included a law legalizing abortion in certain cases as well as protection for single mothers.
The Islamist Party of Justice and Development had originally opposed the plan when it was in opposition, and then altered it after they came to power after elections in November 2011.
Hakkaoui said she had informed the EU about the revised approach and there had been no objections.
Though lacking some of the progressive legislation of Tunisia, Morocco passed a new personal status code in 2004 that has been welcomed by feminists.
The new constitution passed in 2011 after popular protests inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings in North Africa also guarantees equality between women and men.
While female representation in Moroccan governments has never been high, the current Islamist-led coalition only has a single female minister, Hakkaoui. When asked why women weren’t being nominated for more high level posts, the minister replied that few applied.
“The problem is that the number of women applying is low, of 245 candidates, only 27 are women,” she said.