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Title: Women's rights and reform in provincial Morocco : from disenfranchisement to lack of empowerment
Author: Zvan Elliott, Katja
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 433X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Morocco is oftentimes praised by academics, development workers, and women’s rights activists as a trailblazer for the empowerment of women in the Middle East and North African region. Its reforms in the realm of family legislation and progress made in human development place the country at the helm of liberalising Arab Muslim-majority societies, even more so after the Arab Spring and Morocco’s peaceful transition to a ‘new’ constitutional order. However, a closer look at women’s rights discourses, legal reforms, its texts and implementation, and the public attitudes towards the enhancement of women’s rights reveals a less empowering situation. The purported goals of the Family Code, as the extolled document showcasing Morocco’s attempt at ameliorating (married) women’s rights, of ‘doing justice to women’ while ‘preserving men’s dignity’ mask the reformed law’s reconsolidation of patriarchal family relations. Many legal grey areas within this particular law, as well as clashing principles emanating from other laws such as the Penal Code, allow judges and the ʿaduls (religious notaries) to exercise discretion and apply the law as they see fit and, to a large extent, as it conforms to their and the community’s vision of the ideal moral order. Moreover, because ‘doing justice to women’ affects men’s and family’s honour, the project of the enhancement of women’s rights has had as a result retraditionalisation of family relations and hierarchical gender structures. Nowhere is this more poignant than in the status of educated single adult girls from provincial areas. They may be poster girls for the development community, but they are pitied by their own communities because they fail to become complete women––married (non-employed) mothers. The story of Morocco’s professed progress is a story of empowering its citizens, but one which does so on paper only. It is also a story which hides the salient details of poorly written reformed laws, obstructed access to justice, continuing widespread misogyny, material poverty and social marginalisation, and cohesive socio-economic programmes, which are rarely followed through.
Supervisor: Willis, Michael J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literacy ; Middle East ; Anthropology of policy ; Civil society ; Human development ; Development economics ; Family law ; Human rights ; Poverty ; Gender ; Social Inequality ; Women ; Middle East and North Africa ; Family Law Reform