The Moroccan Woman : A Variation On Two Themes By Assia Bensalah-Alaoui : holder of a doctorate in law, Assia is a lecturer at the University Mohammed V and Director of Research at the Centre d'Etudes Strategiques in Rabat, Morocco. A world-renowned specialist in international economic law, she is the author of Pouvoir Vert et Peril Rouge and La Securite Alimentaire Mondiale
The Moroccan woman is a part of this universal movement, in which the courage of some and the struggle of most herald the liberation of all
When Tahar Benjelloun accepted the Prix Goncourt, he paid a touching tribute to his illiterate mother. Like the Moroccan girls who wear miniskirts today, the renowned author owes much thanks indeed to the veiled women of previous generations and their determination to venge themselves against centuries of ignorance. The present generation of Moroccan women also owes a debt of gratitude to those who opened the doors of knowledge to all Moroccans, women as well as men.
Making education available to women was not just an innovation, it was a revolution! This single act overturned the accepted truths of our secular society, which symbolized more than any other the "closed to openness" parabole sung by our poet-philosopher Mohammed Aziz Lahbabi.
From the exclusively feminine world to which she had been confined, woman, in all her vulnerability, stepped into a world that had previously belonged to men. While Arab-Islamic tradition, the source of her faith and her identity, continues to lay its claim on her, she also feels the tug of modernity and its promises of freedom and untold possibilities. And so the future heaps its demands upon the constraints of the past.
Moreover, the Moroccan woman's fight for her own place in the sun is accompanied by her daily struggle to educate her abundant offspring, to safeguard basic, threatened loyalties and to preserve Morocco's legendary culinary heritage from the invasion of fat food! As Moroccan society undergoes countless transformations, the Moroccan woman just take the time she needs to adapt to then.
Having reconciled the past with the future, she navigates, sometimes with ease and sometimes with conflict, through the characteristically ambivalent intercultural waters. Seductive as she knows her caftan to be, she likes the convenience of blue jeans. And although she may still subscribe to the traditional virtue of submission, she takes delight in self-assertion.
Steeped in the teachings of the Hadiths from earliest childhood, she does not hesitate to invoke Marx and Marcuse in her quest for recognition. She defies prohibitions, topples taboos and tears off her veil, to give life to hope and light to the future! Breaking with centuries of langour and apparent idleness - much to the regret of those nostalgic for Arabian nights style exoticism - she has thrown herself wholeheartedly into her century, gladly taking up every physical and mental challenge that come her way.
Armed with advanced degrees or jut her own determination, she has ventured, unhesitating, into the most arid, unwelcoming territory. Moroccan women now work in every sector of activity. Whether she is an Olympic champion, a company president or a researcher, whether she works in a textile or electronics factory or ploughs the fields, the Moroccan woman serves the nation with sensitivity and enthusiasm.
As the poet said, woman is the future of man. Woman's accession to the last bastion of male dominance may take some time yet, constantly deferred by the painful adjustments it implies for the collective consciousness, and especially for die-hard male chauvinists. But accede to it she will - the ineluctability of this will become self-evident as new generations succeed the old.
Armed with the equality granted to them under the Moroccan constitution, the Moroccan woman of today is determined to fake full advantage of her right to be different. Already adored and venerated as a mother, protected and fussed over as a daughter and often at the center of conflict as a wife, the Moroccan woman - like women everywhere - now faces the challenge of assuming her role simply as a human being.
The Moroccan woman is a part of this universal movement, in which the courage of some and the struggle of most herald the liberation of all.
The Moroccan Woman - Introduction: It is necessary to give some coverage about the Moroccan woman in the midst of all the changes that are taking place in the whole world as well as during a period of transition in the matters of human rights. The Moroccan woman is to be perceived better as a person who enjoys the guarantee of her rights and has very strong expectations for the future. This coverage is above all an attempt to shed light on the conditions of life of the Moroccan woman, her whishes, her hopes and dreams, her achievements, her projects, her intellectual background, and her talents. It will show by the same token how the Moroccan woman looks to herself and how she sees her diversity. Likewise, she is ambivalent. She is the guardian of Moroccan cultural values at home and the proponent of modernity outside her house. The Moroccan Woman Today: Recently, Moroccan women started getting into associations, educating herself, creating her space of liberty and fighting for her own rights, even in places generally dominated by men, either in political or social activities. It is also important to note that despite all the progress that the Moroccan woman achieved, she is still ambiguous; she has poor knowledge of the law, she also has the paradox of female self-censorship and insufficient education, especially in rural areas. Beauty from Head to Foot Of Remote Regions : Within a very large geographic area extending from the Middle Atlas to the Sahara, there still exist some female costumes whose origins date back to Roman times. Craftswomen with Great Art Berber women , who are excellent weavers, made their own wool or cotton "izar" as well as their "hendira", a small wool blanket that is worn as an overcoat and which represents a central item of Berber clothing. Woman's Aspects of Beauty Tattoos, headdress, jewelry, belts and shoes all show great variation from one region to another. However the quick invasion of the western life style and industrial materials such as synthetic colors and clothes have affected the regional rural costume which is now to some extent losing it's authenticity and becoming a simple folk costume to be shown to tourists. There is also a great variety of Moroccan jewelry whether it is gold or silver made which shows the great skills the Moroccan jeweler's have in this field. From the Haik to the Djellaba unlike the rural woman ( in the high and middle atlas) the Moroccan woman in the city could not go out in the streets without a haik (at least in the beginning of the 1950's). The haik is a large piece of wool or cotton cloth of about 5.00 M x1.60 M which hide the shape of her body and covered her face. At Morocco' independence in 1956, Moroccan women became more and more active outside home, so the haik was replaced by the "Djellaba, which is in fact a male's garment in its origin. It has undergone many changes and important transformation in the last four decades. It has kept the same structure but lost the rigorous cut and the sober colors of its origins, except when worn by conservative or older women. The costume of the city women began to be affected by the fashion phenomenon as a result of more intensive exchange with other countries in the 19th century. This is the case of the "caftan". Originally Turkish or even Chinese, the qaftan has remained until today, the basic inner garment of the Moroccan woman. Fashion, yes....tradition too Despite all the variations that it may undergo under the pressure of modern living, traditional clothing constitutes the basic wardrobe of Moroccan women from all social classes. one needs only go to a wedding or any religious ceremony to realize to what extent Moroccan women and men remain faithful to their most beautiful traditions. Moroccan women Fighting for their Rights : According to the Moroccan constitution, the Moroccan woman has the same political rights as man. but she is discreetly present, she is a trade unionist who does not give speeches, but who works behind the scenes in order to obtain her full rights and manages to establish rights of the active woman. She is also into politics, she can be part of the central committee of any political party. She works very hard to impose herself and to prove to future generations that woman and politics are not necessarily incompatible, it is just a matter of faith . Woman and law : The legal status of women in Morocco plays a very important role in the political and social life of the country. Recently, a national committee on the participation of women in political life and a national council for the revision of the Moroccan family law ( moudawwana, have been formed; their objective is to bring the condition of women closer to the ideals of the United Nations. The women of the 21st century want to live with their time and be free of social dichotomies and various kinds of negligence which have been condemned by the United Nations conventions on the banning of all forms of discrimination against women (1979). This is a very complex field where religion and social conservation clash with the urgency of change . Under the article 13 of the constitution of the Moroccan Kingdom, all citizens are granted the right to education and employment. Morocco has ratified the international treaty on economic, social and cultural rights. It has done the same with International labor organization conventions on the protection of women and the principle of equality between the sexes. Still, recourse to tradition explains why the moudawwana maintains the sexual division of labor within the couple and entrusts the husband with the leadership of the family. The Koran shows tremendous care for women. It grants her many rights: she is free like man is, she can own properties and has complete control over them that nobody can have( her father, husband or son) she has to consent when it comes to marriage. Islam is the first and the only religion which restricts polygamy, besides, a woman can ask for an additional clause to the marriage contract specifying that the husband will remain monogamous. The Moroccan woman and development: Since 1989, illiteracy of women has declined thanks to the progress made by schooling since independence. It has led to a relative over -qualification of female activity in comparison with male activity. During the 80's, Moroccan women entered the economic world in great numbers by enrolling in more and more jobs in the city. They are present in all branches of activities, industry, social services, education, household activities and as well as their own business. In 1990, working women represented more than 25% of the total active urban population. mentality of the Moroccan people changed due to the participation of women in active life. Moroccan Women imposed themselves by their competence, thus , the inequality with men became less blatant. Many women choose to venture into many careers that have up till now been reserved for men only: airline pilots, journalists, writers, researchers, this choice is often the result of a need for financial independence or psychological growth. There are many fields where the Moroccan woman can be really proud of herself, and in which she competed with men, especially in the surgery field, medicine and public health in general. In this field, she is always appreciated and known for her dedication and her competence. In the country side , women are also very active, they represent almost 50% of the active rural population . In agriculture as well as in industry, women proved to be competent and represent the majority of laborers. The Moroccan woman as a mother is a true keeper of traditions. She is the nourishing mother and the educator, thus occupying a dominating place in society and especially within the family. She perpetuates life, cements identity and keeps traditions. S he is also valued by social powers, still, in a patriarchal society, she comes second to the father or the husband. The Moroccan woman finds her strength in doing many tasks, she keeps the upper hand over her home, ( housekeeper) but she also performs other tasks outside home. Moroccan Women and culture: The number of women who are involved in cultural activities is so large that it is impossible to quote any names at the expense of others. the artistic and literary production of women is getting wider and wider. Moroccan women are novelists, writers poetesses, actresses or journalists who find their inspiration in the daily, the historical, the fantastic or the romantic; with all liberty, they proclaim their pains, concerns , joys and dreams; they do it with unbelievable skills, a great mastering of the language, be it native or foreign language. In the world of music, there are many women who play different instruments in traditional or modern orchestras, among them, Ghislane Hamadi who won many international prizes. Many other women, singers are very much appreciated either in Morocco or in the Arabic World in general. Moroccan Women and Sport: Women and sport is an ambiguous equation . even though some progress has been noticed in the field since 1984, we can not say that Moroccan women are using sport to liberate themselves. They still have to face many difficulties. Fitness sport which is used by women to stay in shape has known a big progress , yet the competitive sport has not gained many disciples because of its requirements and also because of a lack of adequate structures and a problem of mentality that is difficult to overcome. Moroccan Women joining and creating associations: Soon after independence, there emerged a movement of association among women. These associations had social goals; they were created in response to a need felt by women from the elite to share their knowledge with, and assist, disadvantaged women and children. Justice and equity Later, during the 70's and especially the 80's, this movement took on the additional goal of promoting women's rights. This movement is characterizes by its diversity of trends and a multiplicity of objectives, organizational structures and agenda that vary according to the choice of the initiators. Moroccan Woman, family, child: Three types of associations are to be distinguished: socially -oriented associations which are interested in such causes as the protection of children and family. Information -oriented associations that serve to develop women's awareness in specific fields such as health, family, planning, aids fighting or environment protection. These associations generally have a mixed membership, but women are specially active in them. Constantly fighting Associations of the third type, in spite of their diversity, all claim a role in the battle for the reinforcement of the rights acquired by women as a result of the transformations that took place in the Moroccan society in the last three decades; and they all work for equity based on universal or specific values. Source: Mincom