10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Morocco
Morocco is a country in North Africa that borders the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Mediterranean in the north. Its location makes it a strong competitor in international trade and business. Forbes has classified Morocco as an emerging country with financial, educational and political potential. In 2015, the Government of Morocco and the World Health Organization (WHO) teamed up to improve the public health situation in the country, focusing on five regional priorities: health security and control of communicable diseases, mental health and violence, nutrition, strengthening health systems and responsiveness to health crises. Here are the 10 facts about life expectancy in Morocco.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Morocco

  1. Life expectancy at birth in Morocco has increased by over 35 years since 1950. A recent report found that Moroccans should reach a 77-year life expectancy compared with the 42 years of average life expectancy in 1950. The Ministry of Family Solidarity, Equality and Social Development carried out this study in partnership with the National Observatory for Human Development.
  2. The same study found that the life expectancy of Moroccan women was age 60, which was 21 years longer instead of just 17 years longer as recorded in 1980. There was a similar increase with Moroccan men at age 60, who now should live 19 years longer instead of 17 years longer in 1980.
  3. The 2014 Moroccan census showed that nearly 3.2 million Moroccans are over 60 years old, while in 1960, less than one million Moroccans lived to be 60 years old. The aforementioned study predicts that by the year 2030, the number of people who live to be 60 and above will double to almost six million Moroccans, which is 20 percent of the population.
  4. Morocco is currently going through a demographic transition. The population is increasing but at a declining rate, as the overall life expectancy from birth continues to increase but women are having fewer children. Morocco is following development trends; the more it develops, the more the rate of its population goes down. When Morocco reaches the status of a developed country, its population will decline like countries across Europe and the United States of America.
  5. Overall infant, child and maternal mortality rates have decreased as there is more emphasis on expanding access to vaccinations, adequate nutrition, hygiene and better primary health care. Various international organizations and nonprofits, such as the WHO and CARE have managed to improve the overall health care situation in Morocco. All of these contribute to the decrease in mortality rates and the increase in life expectancy.
  6. Morocco has a shrinking population of children which reflects the decline in the total fertility rate from five in the mid-1980s to 2.2 in 2010. Total fertility rate (TFR) relates to the total number of children born or likely to be born to a woman in her lifetime, assuming she is subject to the age-specific fertility rate of her society’s population.
  7. Aging is the main trend in demographic shifts. The joint report found that by 2050, Morocco will have approximately 10 million senior citizens. This again points towards increased life expectancy and Morocco’s increasing overall development.
  8. The joint report also indicated that poverty in urban areas decreased from 4.9 percent to 0.7 percent and in the countryside from 14 percent to 4.5 percent in the span of almost a decade. This decrease in poverty, as well as the tendency of elderly to live in urban areas with increased access to health care, are all contributing factors to the increased life expectancy of elderly, as well as the general population.
  9. The study found that proper medical care and social care for the elderly is lacking, despite the increasing senior population in Morocco. Currently, there is not enough investment in welfare programs or senior living facilities and arrangements. This makes it more difficult for seniors to participate in Moroccan society by posing challenges to their own mobilization and physical health.
  10. The Ministry of Family, Solidarity, Equality and Social Development stress that research on life expectancy help the government to assess and develop adequate social welfare and health care programs. The increase in elderly people in the population implies the government should be investing in senior accommodations such as senior living homes.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Morocco should help the country adequately serve its people through health care and social programs. With this knowledge, the country can prepare to provide care and housing for an older population.

– Laura Phillips-Alvarez
Photo: Flickr

living conditions in morocco
Morocco is a country rich in history and tradition with a unique culture that comes from Arab, Berber, French and African influences. While the country faces several economic, political and social challenges, it has also been experiencing continued growth in GDP, indicating the progress in its development. Evidence of the country’s domestic progress can be seen through its efforts in increasing school enrollment and literacy rates and reducing poverty. It has also displayed its progress internationally by taking the lead on environmental progress in the region. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Morocco.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Morocco

  1. Morocco’s government has implemented programs focused on job creation and the reduction of economic disparities that have been effective enough to improve the overall economy. Morocco represents the sixth largest economy in Africa. Its GDP growth rate increased from 2.40 percent in July 2018 to 3 percent by October 2018. Although in previous years, the GDP had been higher, this increase represents a new upswing in growth.
  2. There was slight progress in reducing unemployment in 2018, with a small drop from 10.6 percent to 10 percent by September that year. The High Commission for Planning estimates that 122,00 jobs were created within the last year. In addition, youth unemployment rates dropped from 27.5 percent to 26 percent.
  3. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concluded in an index evaluation that Morocco is the worst country in North Africa in terms of income inequality. The income share held by the highest 20 percent amounted to 47 percent in 2013 while the lowest 20 percent held a total of 6.70 percent. Distribution of income in Morocco is a challenge that still needs to be addressed.
  4. Although income inequality persists, the poverty rate in Morocco had decreased from 8.9% in 2007 to 4.2% in 2014. The World Bank reported an increase of 3.3 percent in consumption per capita between 2001 to 2014. However, progress is more apparent in urban areas rather than rural.
  5. In order to improve and diversify its economy, the government has been focusing on becoming more innovative. In 2010, research efforts accounted for 0.73 percent of its GDP, making Morroco one of the highest in the Arab world in that focus. In 2009, the country adopted the Moroccan Innovation Strategy by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Investment and the Digital Economy with the aim of developing domestic demand for innovation and improving innovative funding.
  6. Due to severe understaffing, the World Health Organization (WHO) had listed Morocco as one of the 57 countries that could not provide essential healthcare to its citizens in 2010. The government has since taken measures to improve this. It announced the allotment $10 billion to go towards healthcare and education as part of its $46.5 billion 2019 Finance Bill.
  7. In 2001, Morocco had implemented a program to do away with all the slums. The “City Without Slums Initiative” was set to be accomplished by 2011, but was set back considerably after terrorist attacks in 2003. Its purpose was to improve housing, sanitation and quality of life. It is currently only 68 percent complete. Of the original 85 cities that were scheduled to be updated, 58 have been completed.
  8. In partnership with USAID, Morocco has adopted measures to improve its educational system in 2017. Fewer than 15 percent of students who start in first grade are predicted to graduate from high school. The newly implemented program focuses on teacher training, after-school reading programs as well as distributing important learning materials. The program has already trained more than 340 teachers and improved literacy for 12,000 students.
  9. Literacy rates had improved substantially from 41.6 percent in 1994 to 71.7 percent in 2015. However, the adult literacy gender gap in Morocco is still a challenge that the government is facing. In 2015, the male literacy rate reached 78.6 percent; whereas, the female literacy rate was only 58.8 percent. However, these rates improve significantly when looking at the youth between the ages of 15-24. The gender gap is still present in youth, but much narrower, with roughly 88 percent for women and 95 percent for men.
  10. Similarly to the social challenges the whole region faces, Morocco is a patriarchal society. Gender inequality is embedded in the social, political, legal and economic structures of the country. However, the government has taken constitutional measures to increase gender equality. In 2004, it amended the Mudawanna legal code, guaranteeing legal rights for women in areas like property ownership, divorce and child support. Women currently make up one-third of the formal workforce and almost half of the students graduating from university.

Looking to the Future

These 10 facts about living conditions in Morocco illustrate the government’s efforts to not only achieve economic growth but develop overall. The U.N. Development Program indicated that the Human Development Index for Morocco had increased from 0.458 in 1990 to 0.667 2017. The Moroccan government’s 2019 agenda for development is focused on education and a huge investment in its citizens for the purpose of economic transformation.

Njoud Mashouka

Photo: Flickr

youth, education, morocco
Morocco is a North African country that has seen great improvements in the education sector in recent years.

Thanks to an increase in public spending, and several programs currently in place helping to improve youth education in Morocco, the country has drastically improved the populations’ literacy rates and education system as a whole.

Decade of Education

Morocco had the largest increase in youth literacy in the world between 2000 and 2015. The increase in this time span was 24.6 percent. The result of these efforts was the youth literacy that was vastly improved and that was at 95.1 percent in 2015.

This increase can largely be attributed to the Moroccan government’s Decade of Education. This program was established in 2000, with the goal of increasing enrollment rates and closing the gender gap in education. The program has been more than successful, closing the gender gap to 3.5 percent, and benefiting the 735,000 Moroccan youth with literacy and educational programs in 2012 alone.

The United States Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) awarded Morocco with an honorable mention in the 2012 UNESCO Confucius prize, a prize that is awarded to the nations who show great improvement in literacy rates.

Partnering of USAID and Morrocan Government

Despite the vast improvement in literacy rates, there is still work to be done in the educational sector in the country. Drop-out rates are still high, with only 53 percent of students moving on from middle to high school and less than 15 percent of first-grade students likely to graduate from high school.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with the Moroccan government to improve education on a number of levels including reading, hiring more teachers and administrators and distributing reading materials.

The results of the partnership have been successful, to say the least. More than 12,000 students have been helped by the new reading method, over 340 teachers have been instructed on new reading material, an educational program to help deaf students through sign language is now offered by 10 schools across Morocco.

In 2017, a nationwide program was established to implement a phonics-based educational reading method in grades 1 and 2 in order to further develop youth education in Morocco.

Through the collaboration of the government and different nongovernmental organizations, tens of thousands of new teachers were trained every year and primary education rates rose from 53.4 percent to 98.2 percent between 2000 and 2009.

Vision 2030

Public spending on education has risen considerably in recent years. Over 21 percent of total government spending was used for education in 2014, which accounted for 5.9 percent of GDP that year. Public spending on education has risen by 5 percent per year almost every year since 2002.

The Moroccan Minister of National Education and Vocational Training unveiled a new educational project known as Vision 2030 during the presentation of national education budget projection in 2015.

The project will put emphasis on several levels of educational improvement, including mastering the Arabic language, a working knowledge of foreign languages and integrating general education with vocational training.

Youth Education in Morocco has been steadily improving thanks to government programs and nonprofits donating time and money to help the cause. The country continues to explore future ideas to continue to improve the quality of education in the country.

– Casey Geier

Photo: Flickr

how the media misrepresents Morocco
Morocco lies in the west of North Africa and is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of California. The country is both scenic and fertile with the Atlantic Ocean to its west and the Mediterranean Sea to its north. It’s in how the media misrepresents Morocco, a country with a great history, that much of its beauty is lost.

As of 2015, Morocco is the fifth richest country in Africa. Since it is one of the most visited countries, it generates two-thirds of its GDP through tourism and telecommunications.

Media Misrepresents Morocco

How the media misrepresents Morocco, however, is through the depiction of its people’s faith, geographic location and traditionalism. An astonishing 98 percent of the country’s population are Muslims. They follow Islam—a religion that has a history of conflict and controversy with the Western world. Since September 11, 2001, the Western media has continuously exposed the wrongdoings of the Muslim faith causing further tension.

Moreover, Morocco is also an African nation, which, given the continent’s history of mass poverty, has only added to the media’s bias.

Finally, about 24 percent of the population is the Arabized Imazighen and about 21 percent are Imazighen—a community of people who are descendants of an Afro-Asiatic family which directly descends from the ancient Egyptians. The Imazighen are strictly traditional and often live in Morocco’s mountainous regions to preserve their language and culture.

An example of how the media misrepresents Morocco is how it has depicted the country as an ‘unjust’ and ‘unfair’ nation. One such report came from Freedom House’s 2015 report on journalism, which ranked Morocco lower than other nations which have a history of violence with reporters although it does not have a history of violence.

It is true, that in essence, the Qur’an is the source of law, however, Morocco does have a French-inspired legal code. After the legal system was met with pressures from Moroccan women for a more balanced system, in 2004 the parliament issued a more liberal and balanced legal code.

Constitutional Monarchy in Morocco

The country is headed by a constitutional monarchy, which shares its power with the parliament. The monarch does have power over religious affairs, the country’s armed forces and the national security policy. The monarch also has the power to choose the prime minister.

The monarch’s political affiliation and power have been a subject of much controversy and debate—particularly in the last 30 years. Nevertheless, the Moroccans have voted in favor of this system, though they did vote to expand the parliament’s power in 2011.

Modernization in Morocco

Another aspect of how the media misrepresents Morocco is that it seems to ignore how the country is rapidly modernizing. It instead capitalizes on how Morocco has kept much of its ancient architecture and customs. The Western media reports the country to be “stuck in its ways” and “archaic” but ignores how it has tried to promote women’s equality, human rights, religious tolerance and social liberalization while upholding its Islamic heritage.

Morocco has seen much migration and urbanization of its communities. Its standard of living is also rapidly increasing. In fact, it is the most visited African nation with 10.3 million tourists in 2016 alone.

Battling Malnutrition in Morocco

While one-third of Morocco experiences malnutrition, the government is actively trying to better the living conditions of those affected. For instance, in 1999 the Moroccan government set up a loan fund to help small businesses grow. In 2017, the government provided its impoverished communities with electricity and piped water.

Morocco, in fact, is one of the few Arab nations which could be self-sufficient in food production. It can produce two-thirds of the grains necessary for domestic consumption in a year. Morocco is trying to capitalize on this by attempting to use its great potential in hydroelectric power.

– Isabella Agostini
Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Morocco
Morocco gained independence in 1956 and now works under a monarchy. Today, Morocco has a population of more than 36 million and is known to many to be a beautiful and vibrant country with a rich history. However, there is much about the social culture of this country that people do not know. Morocco has long had political and social turmoil due to the lack of ability for people to protest the government. Here are three facts about human rights in Morocco and what is being done to improve the situation.

3 Facts About Human Rights in Morocco

  1. Freedom of Expression – In 2016, Morocco implemented The Press and Publications Code to eliminate using prison sentences as a punishment for non-violent speech and issue fines instead. However, this has not been upheld by the country’s penal code. In fact, some cases have seen increased prison sentences after peaceful participation in demonstrations against the government. Morocco has to begin working to reduce punishments inflicted on those who wish to peacefully speak out, and prison sentences given to activists as well as the fines, equivalent to $2,000 for social media posts by activists, should be removed from the law to truly promote human rights in Morocco.
  2. Freedom of Assembly – After imprisoning various activists for their demonstrations against the government concerning its treatment of the environment, the Moroccan government began slowly tolerating more marches. While this was a significant step, most protests were still forcibly dispersed, regardless of their peaceful nature, and people have still been imprisoned. The Moroccan Constitution promotes freedom of association and assembly; however, when The Moroccan Association of Human Rights has tried to hold events, there have been many obstacles in their path. Freedom of assembly in Morocco must be allowed to progress in order for the country to progress.
  3. Women’s Rights – In 2004, The Family Code was created to improve women’s rights in various scenarios considering divorce, child custody rights and inheritance. Furthermore, the Moroccan Constitution in 2011 actually states equality for women, but this is not yet the case. There are still many advancements to be made considering the discriminatory laws against women in regards to sex outside marriage and rape. In these cases, it is more common for women to face repercussions than men.
  4. Domestic Workers – In October 2018, there will be a new law implemented to assist domestic workers. Human rights in Morocco are expanding to set the minimum age for working at 18. Not only will this limit the age but the number of hours worked in a week will also be limited and a minimum wage will be set. While this is a step in the right direction, with poverty rampant in certain parts of Morocco, there are many children, mostly girls, that, undoubtedly, will have to continue to work.

While there are many areas in which Morocco needs to work on their goals to implement stronger human rights policies, there are many organizations that are working every day to strengthen Moroccan people.

3 Organizations Working To Promote Human Rights in Morocco

  1. National Human Rights Council (CNDH) – The National Human Rights Council is an organization that focuses on ending human rights violations by addressing and assuring freedoms in Morocco. Violations are monitored and investigations are conducted to deter future violations. Not only does the council have the power to investigate current issues but they also have the ability to inspect prisons and assure that conditions are satisfactory. As an organization, they have reported on issues such as gender equality, violence and reform.
  2. Moroccan Truth and Reconciliation Commission – Established in 2004, this commission has seventeen members and spends its efforts on reconciling past violations conducted in the Arab world. They assess the settlements needed for cases against human rights. Violations are graded and the victims are to be compensated adequately, depending on the severity of the violation.
  3. Women’s Rights and Gender Equality – While women’s rights in certain portions of the developing world have often been overlooked, in Morocco, they have become a lead focus for the government. The idea has been to change how women’s roles are viewed in society. The Moroccan government has been somewhat successful, which is demonstrably shown by the fact that 21 percent of women now hold office in The House of Representatives.

Morocco has undergone a significant transition in the recent years making human rights a forefront focus. There has been a transition. While there is much still to be done, Morocco has made changes that should and will improve its future.

– Kayleigh Mattoon
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Morocco

Gender Roles a Barrier to Girls’ Education in Morocco

The idea that women are not seen as equal to men in any facet is not something new in Morocco. This has been a social norm as old as civilization. The woman is seen as the caretaker and custodian of the household while the men provide for the family and work to earn money.

There are many factors that contribute to this situation, such as traditions that favor boys’ education over girls’, the number of young girls forced to work and early marriage. Girls are deprived of the necessary tools needed to succeed in life simply because they are not male. This type of gender inequality is an enormous problem as well as a human rights issue.

In addition, the distance to school for Moroccan girls can be a hurdle compared to boys. According to the Peace Corps, “The further away from the home, it is believed, the greater the girl’s vulnerability, the greater the danger.” Unfortunately, girls are the victims of most attacks due to society identifying them as feeble. Not being given the opportunity to receive a quality education in a country where it is mandatory, is quite saddening when knowing the full extent of girls’ education in Morocco.

Changing Social Norms Are Part of the Solution

Many steps can be taken in order to combat this issue. First, laws regarding gender equality in Morocco need to be better enforced. Morocco guaranteed full equality in its 2011 constitution, but many women in the country believe there is more work to be done to make this a reality.

Another solution is an alteration in traditional practices. It is well known that males are seen as superior in every aspect of society, but a shift in this view would help girls and women. Not only would girls benefit from being treated equally, but this would also cause a domino effect that would influence other parts of the economy and education system.

Education would be affected the most in a positive way. Girls would feel empowered and be more willing to attend school if they are not looked down upon like they are today. Girls would also be able to concentrate and focus more on their studies because they would not have to worry about mistreatment or the possibility of being taken advantage of.

According to Morocco World News, “In terms of urban-rural dichotomy, the situation for women in rural areas remains significantly poorer with rates of illiteracy standing at 87 percent.” In a country where the role of women is becoming increasingly important, why are almost 90 percent of its women illiterate? This verifies a very large gender gap in quality education and will most likely continue if action is not taken.

Whether there will be change regarding girls’ education in Morocco remains to be seen, but when the proper information is obtained and individuals are aware of what needs to happen to see a difference, many ideas and solutions will begin to arise and hopefully end a gender gap in the education system that has been part of Morocco for a very long time.

– Matthew McGee
Photo: Google

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Morocco
Morocco is an African country full of vibrant colors and vast potential. The U.S. has a planned budget of $15.9 million for Moroccan foreign aid in 2019. This money is spent advancing the U.S.’s development goals in Morocco, which include: maintaining peace and security, democracy, human rights and governance, economic development, education and social services within the country. So what are the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Morocco?

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Morocco: Security

First, and arguably the most important of the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Morocco, comes from the increase of security. By sending foreign aid to Morocco, the U.S. minimizes terrorist threats in the country. More than $8 million will be spent on counter-terrorism efforts, combating weapons of mass destruction, stabilization operations and security sector reform. While Morocco might seem distant, its security is of importance to the U.S.

The U.S. actively works to fight terrorism and combat extremist groups throughout the globe. Sending foreign aid to Morocco is one way to continue fighting terrorism. Foreign aid in Morocco is also sent to benefit democracy, human rights and governance. The Department of State breaks this into two spending categories: Rule of Law and Human Rights and Good Governance.

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Morocco: Economy

The aid that is sent in an effort to support good governance works to increase public participation and enforcement of the separation of powers through a checks and balances system. Keeping Morocco (and any country for that matter) politically stable and transparent benefits the U.S. ethically, economically and politically.

Economically, the Department of State has allocated $2.5 million in 2019 for economic development in Morocco. This aid aims to improve policies, laws and regulations within the private sector in an effort to give Morocco the ability to compete nationally and internationally. This improves trade and international policies for all states involved, including the U.S.

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Morocco: Education

Lastly, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Morocco by improving Moroccan education and social services. Education, as a universal human right, should be ensured in every nation and benefits the entire world. Education is crucial in improving economic stability and increasing annual gross domestic product within a country. Within the U.S., education has been an important part of the country’s foreign assistance strategy for decades.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Morocco by supporting peace and stability within their security efforts, advocating for good governance ethically, advancing trade and international policies economically and by improving education and social service strategies.

– Haley Hine

Photo: Pxhere

facts about poverty in MoroccoMorocco’s low labor costs and close proximity to Europe has allowed the nation to move towards a diverse market-oriented economy. Despite its economic progress, 4 million Moroccans remain in poverty and live on less than $4 a day. Poverty in Morocco remains an issue.

Recognizing the poverty crisis in Morocco is essential to alleviating it; such a feat is possible through providing facts about poverty in Morocco to the public.

The Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Morocco

  1. Morocco announced the National Human Development Initiative Support Project (INDH) in 2005. The project’s $1 million budget and five-year timeline intended to improve living conditions of citizens, reduce poverty throughout the country, assist vulnerable demographics and support families in dire need.
  2. In 1998, 16.3 percent of Moroccans were considered poor. This number was nearly cut in half by 2007, with only 8.9 percent of Moroccans considered poor. Although the poverty rate was further reduced to 4.2 percent in 2014, over 18 percent of Morocco’s rural population still lived in poverty or were considered vulnerable.
  3. Geographical divides play a major role in Morocco’s poverty; of the 4 million people living in poverty in Morocco, 3 million reside in rural areas.
  4. Reduced poverty rates stem from slowed population growth, remittances from Moroccans living abroad, economic stability and nonprofit organization involvement.
  5. Nearly 19 percent of Morocco’s population lives on less than $4 a day.
  6. Three factors impede Morocco’s development: illiteracy, financial inequality and economic volatility. It is difficult for Moroccans to transition out of poverty with over a quarter of Morocco’s adult population being illiterate. According to the Gini Index — a scale that measures financial inequality from zero (absolute equality) to 100 (absolute inequality) — Morocco sits at 40.7. Morocco’s economy largely depends on agriculture as it accounts for 19 percent of its GDP and 40 percent of jobs. However, Morocco’s agriculture sector is incredibly volatile; only 18 percent of Morocco is arable and this sector is prone to changing weather conditions.
  7. In November 2017, 17 people were killed and over 40 injured in a stampede for food stamps; of the 17 victims, 15 were women. The stampede occurred while a local philanthropist distributed food stamps to needy families in Sidi Boulalam of the Essaouira province.
  8. The Essaouira stampede highlights the suffering Moroccans experience as a result to current drought, increased food costs, skyrocketing unemployment and fixed incomes. Economist and 2015 Nobel Prize-winner Angus Dayton pointed out the role globalization and technology play in creating millions of jobs and subjecting a large number of people to unemployment, which thus widens the gap between the rich and poor.
  9. Improved literacy levels can reduce poverty in Morocco. Not only does education lift families out of poverty, it keeps them from falling back into it. Children who receive an education attain skills that render them a vital component of the workforce.
  10. Promoting volunteering among young change-makers and international organizations is essential to solving the poverty crisis in Morocco. Entrepreneurship could create innovative solutions and accelerate efforts to help those in need.

Future Steps in Morocco

Although Morocco’s economic progress has reduced poverty to some degree, these facts about poverty in Morocco illustrate how the country still suffers from illiteracy, unemployment and poverty. Possible solutions include reforming the government and education system, and time to see what steps Morocco implements next. 

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Pixabay

Humanitarian Aid to Morocco Contributes to Counterterrorism Efforts
As the U.S. continues to send humanitarian aid to Morocco, the Moroccan government works to protect its country from terrorist threats.

“Morocco has a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy that includes vigilant security measures, regional and international cooperation, and counter-radicalization policies,” the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism reported online. A 2013 report revealed several steps Morocco has taken that have successfully led to the dismantling of terroristic plots.

A founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), Morocco also participates in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. These preventative efforts and partnership with the U.S. and the U.N. have contributed to the country’s leading role in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East.

“Morocco is number one in its national security, but that’s not the main reason for the safety of our country,” Zakaria Hamzaoui, Moroccan citizen and political advocate, said. “We take great steps to improve the quality of life for all people, especially young people, so that people are satisfied with their freedom.”

Indeed, providing hope and opportunities for the most marginalized population reduces a community’s rates of conversion to extremism. Because a population’s youth remains the most likely demographic to cause unrest, targeting this group through youth programs effectively redirects energy and attention to more positive outlets.

According to the U.S. Department of State’s website, a 2016 study showed that U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs have helped to directly improve the lives of more than 12,000 marginalized, at-risk youth since 2012. These programs include a career development system that increases employability and various civil development initiatives that address the roots of unrest.

USAID has also provided humanitarian aid to Morocco in the form of police training, border security, military funding, women’s empowerment and business development.

These initiatives are not limited to U.S.-funded aid; Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have also contributed humanitarian aid to Morocco in the form of a five-year agreement. This deal, totaling $5 billion in aid, will expire at the end of 2017, and its benefactors intend its use for counterterrorism and economy-building through the promotion of new infrastructure and increased tourism.

By combatting the sources of unrest that lead to the growth of extremist ideologies, Morocco and supporting countries have committed to taking preventative actions that help build the country and strengthen its national security. As a result of these efforts, Morocco remains at the forefront of the counterterrorism fight in the Middle East.

– Francesca Colella

Photo: Flickr

women's empowerment in MoroccoAlthough in recent years Morocco has come under fire for its poor gender equality, that does not mean all is lost. In fact, like in most political spheres, while there are setbacks in some areas, there are also massive gains in others. And women’s empowerment in Morocco has certainly improved during the past decade.

For example, gender equality became a huge issue in 2014 when Morocco rewrote its code of family laws. In its most recent writing, the government has yet to guarantee that a woman can receive the family inheritance instead of a man, even if he is younger or a half-sibling. 

In 2004, Morocco created its original family law. Its primary iteration, however, did do away with some gender-related laws. Specifically, since 2004 Morocco has allowed divorce by mutual consent, placed limits on polygamy and raised the minimum marriage age for women to 18. 

An important concept for women’s empowerment in Morocco is recognition. Specifically, certain Moroccan women are receiving international recognition, which only heightens their importance in aspects outside of the home. 

For example, earlier this year a Moroccan businesswoman was selected by the World Economic Forum to co-chair its regional summit. Khadija Idrissi Janati is a PR expert and entrepreneur who is also on the board of directors for the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Morocco. As she said herself, her appointment to this position demonstrates women’s importance in economic development and that Moroccan women can be key players in the region’s future. U.S. President Barack Obama also received Janati in 2014 to commend her work on women’s empowerment in Morocco. 

Similarly, from September 25-27 this year, Marrakech hosted the first annual Women in Africa Summit. The symposium, which attracted male and female attendees, provided a discussion about concrete actions to provide women with greater power and opportunities in their countries. 

Certain projects have created more palpable routes for women’s empowerment in Morocco. In 2013, Naïma Fdil received the Terre de Femmes Prize for founding the organization Women’s Association of Family Development in Wadi Dadès. After studying in Marrakech, Fdil learned that roses from her birth region and valley could be harvested for cosmetic products. 

She decided to return to the valley and set up an organization that taught women to distill these roses in order to produce products that could be sold at higher prices. Since then, this program has expanded the economic output of the valley and provided women the possibility to remove themselves from poverty. 

Another program, created by the Association of Women for Rural Development, is called Empowering Women in Atlas. It seeks to create economic growth for women in the Atlas region of Morocco. Launched a year ago, it selected 100 female beneficiaries from marginalized areas with plans to give them workshops and training sessions to improve their economic power. 

These projects have done a lot to promote women’s empowerment in Morocco, and more women are becoming involved in the economy as a result. By continuing to increase this participation and encouraging women to take on more influential roles, many women can be lifted out of poverty.

– Nick McGuire

Photo: Flickr