Women MPs in the Moroccan Parliament are a step closer to establishing a permanent committee on equality following a recent study day facilitated by the UK’s Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
The study day, held in February 2013, saw 20 women MPs from the Moroccan Parliament’s Equality Working Group come together to refine a strategy for implementing a committee on equality.
As well as recognising the need to ‘speed-up’ its demands for creating an equality committee in the Parliament, the group also proposed that such a committee should be in charge of gender representation in all parliamentary instances and laws. The group also stressed the importance of raising women’s representation in the upcoming elections.
(above right): The study day was officially opened by the Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, Bassima Hakkaoui, and the Vice President of the Lower House, Khadija Rouissi (third from left).
Saad Benkirane, a Moroccan expert on strategic planning, assists women MPs representing the parliament’s eight parliamentary groups, at a preparation day for the working group to develop their strategic plan in February .
The focus on setting up an equality committee which could utilise Morocco’s new constitutional principles to boost and strengthen women’s political participation is timely. The Parliament is currently updating its rules and procedures, as set out in the country’s 2011 constitution, to encourage the integration of a gender perspective in legislation.
Speaking at the study day, Jamila El Mossali MP said, “There is now a collective reflection from different parliamentary groups and women in search of a more equitable form of coalition, to establish a real representation of women and represent their demands.”
During the workshop the women heard from international guest speakers about their countries’ experiences in working towards better representation of women within politics, and the importance of establishing women’s commissions.
Speakers included Gabriela Flores from the UK, who examined the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission. Catherine Quere, an MP from France, discussed the role of the women’s delegation in the National Assembly of France and how it informs Parliament of potential consequences for government policy regarding women's rights and equality.
Intissar Khodr Jebouri, a MP from Iraq shared her experiences as President of the Parliament’s Committee of Women, Children and Family. Jill Kyatuheire, an MP from Uganda, talked about the roles of women’s organisations in the Ugandan Parliament.
Tasks identified by the group for further work included the need to better specify its purpose, clarify its relationships with other parliamentary bodies and what it could contribute to parliamentary life, and how it could become operational through, for example, a memorandum of understanding.
The study day built on the outcomes of an earlier working session with women MPs held in September 2012 and facilitated by WFD. That workshop resulted in the establishment of the Moroccan Parliament’s Equality Working Group, whom WFD has been supporting to strengthen women's participation.
Women MPs from all parliamentary groups in the Moroccan Parliament came together at a workshop in September 2012 to consider how to establish cross-party networks, to strengthen their representation within the parliamentary setting, and their ability to represent women’s voices. Tina Fahm, a WFD Governor (third from left) facilitated the training session.
"We support any form of women’s coalition that can boost their political performance.” Hasnaa Bouzid, MP from the USFP Parliamentary Group, commenting at the WFD facilitated workshop in September.
WFD has been working with the Moroccan Parliament since 2011. It January 2013 a new Memorandum of Understanding was signed, representing a new phase in WFD's programme of parliamentary strengthening support to the Moroccan Parliament, building on previous activities.