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Time for action on equality between women and men, UN experts urge Moroccan government

RABAT (20 February 2012) – A UN body of independent experts today urged the Government of Morocco to further consolidate and advance the country’s decade-long achievements on equality and women’s human rights by establishing without delay the Authority for Parity in accordance with international standards.

“Gender equality must remain central in the complex process of political and social transformation in Morocco,” said Kamala Chandrakirana and Emna Aouij, of the UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, at the end of an official mission* to the country. “Despite many competing priorities faced by the Government, the drafting of the law that will establish the Authority for Parity must start as soon as possible, involving all the relevant stakeholders.”

During its eight-day visit, the independent experts gathered first-hand information on Morocco’s legal framework in the context of promoting equality and eliminating sex-based discrimination, on the implementation of the relevant laws, and on addressing the remaining gaps in legal protection.

The experts noted that, despite significant progress achieved through the adoption and reform of several laws, discriminatory provisions remain, including in the Family Code on marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance and require continuous improvements.

“Stakeholders have identified critical gaps in Morocco’s legal protection, particularly for women victims of domestic violence, for women and girls employed as domestic workers, and for women migrant workers,” said the Working Group’s representatives, calling on the authorities to accelerate deliberations on bills on domestic violence, domestic workers and migrant workers.

“Poor and rural women need to be an integral part of the historic reforms the country is undergoing,” the independent experts said, stressing that “national programs are crucial to integrate development and human rights and to secure participatory democracy at the local level, but have so far benefited women disproportionately less than men.” They also emphasized the importance of integrating gender into all aspects of Morocco’s decentralization scheme.

Ms. Chandrakirana and Ms. Aouij also noted cultural and societal impediments to the full enjoyment by women of their human rights in Morocco, and urged the Government to use all means at its disposal, including education and the media, to combat stereotypes and negative portrayal of women.

The Working Group’s delegation visited Rabat, Casablanca, Fez and the province of Khémisset, where they met with Government officials, representatives of the legislative and judicial branches, representatives of several national institutions, including the National Human Rights Institution (CNDH) and its regional commissions, civil society organizations and academic experts, as well as grassroots women community leaders.

The Working Group will present its final conclusions and recommendations stemming from its visit in its report to the Human Rights Council in June 2012.

The UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice is composed of five independent experts from all regions of the world: Kamala Chandrakirana, Chair-Rapporteur (Indonesia); Emna Aouij (Tunisia); Mercedes Barquet (México); Frances Raday (Israel/United Kingdom) and Eleonora Zielinska (Poland).

(*) Check the Working Group’s full end-of-mission statement:
English: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11842&LangID=E
French: http://www.ohchr.org/FR/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11842&LangID=F

Learn more about the mandate and activities of the Working Group, log on: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WGWomen/Pages/WGWomenIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Morocco: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/MAIndex.aspx

For inquiries and media requests, please contact: Nathalie Stadelmann (+41 79 444 49 17 / +41 22 917 9104 / nstadelmann@ohchr.org) or write to wgdiscriminationwomen@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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