Morocco ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW”) on June 21, 1993.


Upon ratification, Morocco made reservations to the following CEDAW articles: 2, 9:2, 15:4, 16, and 29 as described in detail below:

  • With regard to article 2: The Government of the Kingdom of Morocco express its readiness to apply the provisions of this article provided that:

-They are without prejudice to the constitutional requirement that regulate the rules of succession to the throne of the Kingdom of Morocco;

– They do not conflict with the provisions of the Islamic Shariah. It should be noted that certain of the provisions contained in the Moroccan Code of Personal Status according women rights that differ from the rights conferred on men may not be infringed upon or abrogated because they derive primarily from the Islamic Shariah, which strives, among its other objectives, to strike a balance between the spouses in order to preserve the coherence of family life.

  • With regard to article 15, paragraph 4: The Government of the Kingdom of 

Morocco declares that it can only be bound by the provisions of this paragraph, in particular those relating to the right of women to choose their residence and domicile, to the extent that they are not incompatible with articles 34 and 36 of the Moroccan Code of Personal Status.

  • With regard to article 9, paragraph 2: The Government of the Kingdom of Morocco makes a reservation with regard to this article in view of the fact that the Law of Moroccan Nationality permits a child to bear the nationality of its mother only in the cases where it is born to an unknown father, regardless of place of birth, or to a stateless father, when born in Morocco, and it does so in order to guarantee to each child its right to a nationality. Further, a child born in Morocco of a Moroccan mother and a foreign father may acquire the nationality of its mother by declaring, within two years of reaching the age of majority, its desire to acquire that nationality, provided that, on making such declaration, its customary and regular residence is in Morocco.
  • With regard to article 16: The Government of the Kingdom of Morocco makes a reservation with regard to the provisions of this article, particularly those relating to the equality of men and women, in respect of rights and responsibilities on entry into and at dissolution of marriage. Equality of this kind is considered incompatible with the Islamic Shariah, which guarantees to each of the spouses rights and responsibilities within a framework of equilibrium and complementary in order to preserve the sacred bond of matrimony.
    • The provisions of the Islamic Shariah oblige the husband to provide a nuptial gift upon marriage and to support his family, while the wife is not required by law to support the family.
    • Further, at dissolution of marriage, the husband is obliged to pay maintenance. In contrast, the wife enjoys complete freedom of disposition of her property during the marriage and upon its dissolution without supervision by the husband, the husband having no jurisdiction over his wife’s property.
    • For these reasons, the Islamic Shariah confers the right of divorce on a woman only by decision of a Shariah judge.
  • With regard to article 29:
    • The Government of the Kingdom of Morocco does not consider itself bound by the first paragraph of this article, which provides that `Any dispute between two or more States Parties concerning the interpretation or application of the present Convention which is not settled by negotiation shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration.
    • The Government of the Kingdom of Morocco is of the view that any dispute of this kind can only be referred to arbitration by agreement of all the parties to the dispute.

Summary of Official CEDAW Reports:

To date, Morocco has submitted official reports to the CEDAW Committee (“Committee”) on three occasions. The first periodic report was released in September 1994, the second report in February 2000, and the most recent combined third and fourth periodic report in August 2006.

In response to Morocco’s most recent periodic report, the Committee released comments in June 2007 regarding Morocco’s progress in implementing CEDAW as well as the areas of concerns. The Committee commended Morocco’s timely submission, but regretted that the report does not provide clear and precise information on the implementation of each recommendation made in the previous concluding observations of the committee. The Committee expressed its appreciation to Morocco for its high-level delegation and the constructive dialogue held between the delegation and the members of the Committee.

A detailed account of progress expressed by the Committee following Morocco’s report in 2006 as follows:

  • The work of the Royal Commission on the Personal Status Code and the important legal reforms undertaken in the field of human rights and especially to eliminate existing discrimination against women, such as the adoption of the Family Code, the Nationality Law, the Law on Civil Registration, the Labor Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure as well as the amendments to the Penal Code.
  • The ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, published in Official Gazette in February 2004, as well as the publication of the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in March 2004, since these international instruments also cover the human rights of women and the girl-child.
  • The reorganization of the Conseil Consultatif des Droits de l’Homme, which is in line with the Paris Principles, the establishment of the Diwan Al Madhanlim, as an Ombudsman to deal with complaints vis-à-vis the public administration as well as the establishment of the Instance Equité et Réconciliation, with a view to examining the serious human rights violations of the past, since these instruments and bodies also contribute to the protection of the human rights of women.
  • The various plans, programs and other measures aiming at implementing human rights at the domestic level, especially the measures adopted in the field of women’s rights, such as national strategies for gender equity and equality, to eliminate violence against women, for universal basic education, and on migration.
  • Morocco’s signature of a cooperation agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2007 aiming at implementing a national refugee strategy.

A detailed account of recommendations made by the Committee following Morocco’s report in 2006 as follows:

  • Incorporate the principle of equality between women and men in its Constitution, or in other appropriate law, in line with article 2 (a) of the Convention, and reflect fully the definition of discrimination contained in article 1 of the Convention in its national legislation. Enact and implement a comprehensive law on gender equality that is binding on both public and private sectors and make women aware of their rights under such legislation, and establish procedures for filing complaints on discrimination against women, provide adequate sanctions for such acts of discrimination and ensure that effective remedies are available to women whose rights have been violated.
  • Establish the status of international conventions within its domestic legal framework, ensuring the precedence of international instruments, including the Convention, over national legislation, and ensure conformity of this legislation with these instruments, and disseminate the Convention and its general recommendations widely among all stakeholders, including government ministries, parliamentarians, the judiciary, political parties, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and the general public.
  • Notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations, as depositary of the Convention, the withdrawal of those reservations and declarations as soon as possible and continue to take the necessary steps for the withdrawal of all its remaining declarations and reservations to articles 2 and 16 to the Convention which, in the opinion of the Committee, go against the object and purpose of the Convention, in order for Moroccan women to benefit from all the Conventions’ provisions.
  • Intensify awareness-raising campaigns and training on the newly adopted legislation, as well as on the provisions of the Convention, for prosecutors, lawyers and judges, so as to firmly establish a legal culture supportive of women’s equality and non-discrimination in the State party, and enhance women’s awareness of their rights through sustained legal literacy programs and legal assistance.
  • Continue its reforms in consultation with civil society, especially women’s organizations, and provide, in its next periodic report, detailed information on legal remedies available in cases of discrimination, and on complaints on cases related to discrimination against women brought before the Ombudsman and the courts and their outcome.
  • Address stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men, including the hidden cultural patterns and norms that perpetuate direct and indirect discrimination against women and girls in all areas of their lives, and increase its efforts to design and implement comprehensive awareness-raising programs to foster a better understanding of equality between women and men at all levels of society with a view to changing stereotypical attitudes and negative cultural norms about the responsibilities and roles of women and men in the family and society, in accordance with article 5 (a) of the Convention.
  • Media should be encouraged to project positive images of women and the equal status and responsibilities of women and men in society.
  • Enact as soon as possible, in accordance with its general recommendation 19, legislation on violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, to ensure that all violence against women constitutes a criminal offence, that women and girls who are victims of violence have access to immediate means of protection, including shelters, and redress and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished adequately.
  • Amend, without delay, the Penal Code to ensure that marital rape is criminalized and criminal proceedings against rapists are not terminated when they marry their victims, and conduct studies on the causes and extent of violence against women and girls, including sexual and domestic violence.
  • Collect disaggregated data on all forms of violence against women and provide information in its next report on the laws and policies in place dealing with such violence against women and the impact of the measures taken, and take steps towards the protection of domestic workers and to ensure that restrictions on child labor are enforced, in order to protect the girls-child from multiple forms of discrimination.
  • Adopt effective measures to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, especially women and girls, and investigate thoroughly such cases, in accordance with article 6 of the Convention and general recommendation 19, and increase international cooperation efforts to prevent trafficking, to prosecute and punish traffickers in accordance with the gravity of their crime, and ensure the protection of the human rights of women and girls who are victims of exploitation and trafficking, including by taking measures for their rehabilitation and social integration.
  • Ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and provide to the Committee, in its next periodic report, statistical data related to trafficking and exploitation.
  • Take effective and sustained legal measures to increase the political representation of women at all levels, including temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, rather than depending on ad-hoc moral commitments from political parties.
  • In order to accelerate the representation of women, Morocco should establish legal quotas for women for the 2009 municipal elections and adopt temporary special measures to increase women’s representation in decision-making positions in all spheres, and undertake awareness-raising campaigns about the importance of women’s participation in decision-making for society as a whole, including in the public and private sectors.
  • Implement measures to ensure access to girls and women to all levels of education. Such measures could include canteens, boarding facilities, proper sanitation, water and electricity, which have a direct impact on the realization of their right to education, especially in rural areas.
  • Adopt temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 25, to ensure the retention of girls in school, and continue to strengthen its efforts to improve the literacy level of girls and women through the adoption of comprehensive programs of formal and non-formal education, adult education and training and increase training and employment of teachers, the development of gender-sensitive educational materials and the monitoring and evaluation of progress achieved towards time-bound targets.
  • Special attention should be given to girls who are domestic workers, in order to ensure that they are not employed below the age of 15, allowing them to continue their education, at least until that age.
  • Raise general awareness of the importance of education as a human right and as a basis for the empowerment of women, and to take steps to overcome traditional attitudes that perpetuate discrimination.
  • Prioritize the realization of women de facto equality with men in the labour market, so as to achieve full compliance of article 11 of the Convention and strengthen labor inspection measures to ensure better implementation of the Labor Code, to take proactive measures to eliminate occupational segregation, both horizontal and vertical and to narrow and close the wage gap between women and men.
  • Speedily enact appropriate legislation to regulate the employment of domestic workers as well as to adopt a gender sensitive employment policy to regulate women’s work in the informal sector and to enhance their access to the formal sector of employment.
  • Increase women’s access to primary health care services, including reproductive health care and means of family planning.
  • In light of its general recommendation 24, Morocco should increase awareness campaigns on the importance of health care, including information on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS as well as on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies through family planning and sex education.
  • Take temporary special measures, in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, to ensure that rural women enjoy their political, social, economic and cultural rights without any discrimination, especially with regard to access to education and health care facilities, and ensure that they are fully integrated in the formulation and implementation of all sectoral policies and programs.
  • Ensure the strict implementation of the provisions on the minimum age of marriage of the Family Code, and amend the Family Code in order only to authorize marriage of children under exceptional strict mandatory legal conditions.
  • Amend its Family Code to prohibit polygamy, as it contravenes a woman’s right to equality with men, and eliminate any other discrimination against women remaining in this Code.
  • Ensure equality between women and men in marriage and upon its dissolution, by giving women equal rights in marriage and family relations, and amend without delay all remaining discriminatory provisions including provisions relating to divorce, custody and legal guardianship of children and inheritance.
  • Enact legal provisions to ensure that, upon dissolution of marriage, women have equal rights to property acquired during marriage, in line with article 16 paragraph 1 (h) of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation 21, and bring those amendments in consultation with women’s organizations.
  • Amend without delay all discriminatory provisions affecting women’s rights in the Nationality Code, in order to harmonize it fully with the Convention, and conduct this task in consultation with women’s organizations.
  • Take measures through its mainstreaming efforts, and the INDH, to address the specific vulnerability of women in poverty, including efforts to ensure women’s representation in the participatory approaches taken in the management of poverty reduction programs, and utilize temporary special measures under article 4 paragraph 1, and general recommendation 25, to this effect.
  • Continue to strengthen its cooperation with UNHCR and adopt a national refugee legislation, in compliance with the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol, and allow refugees and asylum-seekers to access public services, provide work permits for those refugees and asylum-seekers who are documented, and ensure their right to security, especially for women and children.
  • Improve the collection and analysis of statistical data, and to include in its next report statistical data and analysis on the situation of women, disaggregated by age, rural and urban areas, ethnicity and region, including the Western Sahara, thus providing a clear picture of the situation of women in the State party, and indicate the impact of measures taken and the results achieved in the practical realization of women’s substantive equality.
  • Sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention and also invites the State party to accept the amendment to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning the meeting time of the Committee.
  • Ensure the wide participation of all ministries and public bodies in the preparation of its next report, as well as to consult with non-governmental organizations during that phase, and involve Parliament in a discussion of the report before its submission to the Committee.
  • Utilize fully in the implementation of its obligations under the Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which reinforce the provisions of the Convention, and requests the State Party to include information thereon in its next periodic report.
  • Emphasize that a full and effective implementation of the Convention is indispensable for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. It calls for the integration of a gender perspective and explicit reflection of the provisions of the Convention in all efforts aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and requests that Morocco include information thereon in its next periodic report.
  • Consider ratifying the treaty to which it is not yet a party, namely, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Disseminate widely the present concluding observations in order to make the people of Morocco, and particularly government administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps required in that regard.
  • Continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol; the general recommendations of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; and the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace in the twenty-first century”.
  • Respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding observations in its next periodic report to be submitted under article 18 of the Convention, and submit its fifth periodic report, which is due in July 2010, and its sixth periodic report, which is due in July 2014, in a combined report in 2014.

Summary of Shadow Reports:

To date, one shadow report has been submitted regarding the application of CEDAW in Morocco. This comprehensive report was prepared by the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women in coordination with 25 women’s organizations in November 2007 to parallel the combined third and fourth official periodic report prepared by the government.

The significant report made recommendations to the Moroccan government on the following areas in which women face discrimination:  public policy; political participation; nationality; education; employment; reproductive health; the Labor Code; the Penal Code; the Family Code; trafficking; prostitution; and, violence against women.

Recent Updates:

On December 19, 2008, while celebrating the 60th anniversary of the International Human Rights Declaration, King Mohammed VI announced that Morocco would retract its reservation towards certain articles of CEDAW. In addition, the King noted that the reforms adopted by the revised version of the Moudawana were implemented to do justice for women and to consolidate women’s equality to men. However, the Secretary General of the United Nations has yet to receive any official document to that effect.

At this time, the Supreme Council of Muslim Scholars in Morocco issued a statement confirming that the removal of these CEDAW reservations was not in contradiction to Islamic Sharia. This announcement follows after several reforms made by the King to the Family Law including, but not limited to the following: women are now allowed to be their own guardians with regards to marriage, education and employment; the legal age for marriage is now 18; polygamy is generally prohibitive and is under many new restrictions; women now have equal rights to divorce their husbands; verbal repudiation is no longer considered a legally binding form of divorce; custody of children following divorce is now primarily in favor of the mother; and finally, grandchildren are now included in the inheritance of their maternal grandparents. Also, in July 2005, the King announced that Moroccan women could transmit their nationality to their children

Despite this announcement and the overall reforms that have occurred in Morocco over the past decade, Moroccan women still face wide discrimination in both the public and private spheres. Only 20% of pregnant women in rural areas receive pre-natal care and only 39% in rural areas use contraceptives. International assistance programs that provide health care for women often lack the coordination that is necessary to develop a comprehensive system.

On the education front, women are most often less educated than men. Female adult illiteracy is 64% and in rural areas, illiteracy may be as high as 90%. In the economic sector, women are actively participating despite the hurdles they may face. In 2003, it was estimated that women comprise approximately 35% of the workforce. The majority of women work in the fields of agriculture, fishing, crafts and services.

As of 2002, women play a significant role in Moroccan politics, holding 24 seats in the national legislature. The King has appointed three women to senior positions during his reign. Women’s organizations play a major role in coordinating women’s participation in politics, as well as in the overall improvement of the status of Moroccan women. In 1998, women’s groups collaborated with the government to help write the National Action Plan for Women’s Integration into Sustainable Development. Among the many women’s organizations in Morocco, the two most influential include the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (ADFM) and the Union for Women’s Action (UAF).

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