Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A Woman's Place....

For international women's day I had intended to blog a prominent Roudani woman but my research skills weren't up to it so I will write about moroccan women in general instead.
 In 2009 Morocco ranked 124 in the world ranking on gender equality pretty much around the level it had been for the previous decade. This compares with 15 for the UK (which had slipped back from11)and 31 for the USA. (Iceland is the place to be ladies!). North Africa as a region ranks the lowest in the world on gender equality ranking relatively highly on health and education but abysmally low on economic and political participation.
The situation improves for middle class women who access Higher education as their participation and earning ratios are much higher and indeed they are visible in these sort of jobs, banks, pharmicies etc when going about one's business. Indeed professional and technical workers are shown as having gender equality. Similarly their graduate record is good with 25% of engineering graduate being women (the equivalent for the USA is 13%). This is appropriate as the first university in the western world (as opposed to similar bodies in China or India) was founded at Fes in 859 by Fatima Al Fihria.

University of Kharioune, Fes
 Women are noticeably active in manual work as well, it is common in the evening to see pick-up trucks crammed with standing women workers returning from field work and in Agadir we have seen female binpersons -still a no-no in the UK, but the statistics would suggest that for these women their participation is based on their being regarded as cheap labour.
It would also seem likely that these women retire from the labour market on marriage . The mean age of women on marriage in Morocco is 25 and the overall fertility rate is 2.4 and falling. Morocco has fewer teenage pregnancies than the UK and the USA (ranking 42, 55 and 74 respectively). Maternal mortality is 240 per 100,000 live births which places it 99th in world rankings behind its North African neighbours. For those in full employment (most agricultural work will be casual) there is 14 weeks maternity leave on full pay.

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