“Over the years, North Africa has made progress in women’s rights, especially in Morocco and Tunisia, particularly in urban areas where access to education and employment opportunities has improved,” said a recent research paper from Modern Diplomacy.
Titled “Gender and Empowerment in North Africa,” the paper was published on August 30, focused on the advancement of women’s rights in North African countries.
The report praised Morocco for its “positive progress in legal reforms to improve women’s rights, by introducing laws limiting violence and discrimination against women, enhancing their status, and improving their access to basic rights.”
Initiatives that empower North African women include educational programs, job training and legal changes. “Economic empowerment is seen as a way to uplift marginalized groups by giving them the means to improve their socio-economic status,” said the report.
Additionally, the report noted the crucial role of “national civil society organizations in calling for women’s equality”
The advancement of women’s conditions in North Africa has also been aided by women’s continued activism for rights and freedoms, as well as their emphasis on the necessity of more democratic and inclusive communities.
Social movements, constitutional reforms, and political changes have all impacted gender issues in North Africa. “They brought attention to concerns of governance, human rights, and social justice.”
In the report, obstacles to women’s empowerment and equality in the North Africa region were also listed, including “religious interpretations and socio-economic structures, conservative attitudes toward gender roles, and limited representation of marginalized groups in governance structures.”
Women in North Africa have historically experienced varied levels of discrimination and marginalization, with restricted access to employment, education, and decision-making processes.
Despite the positive changes highlighted in the Gender and Empowerment in North Africa report, many challenges do persist, and continue to limit North African women from achieving levels of freedom and fulfillment they aspire to.
For example, the recent ‘Trapped’ report by Human Rights Watch on how male guardianship laws still impede women’s mobility highlighted some of the obstacles that stand in the way of women in the MENA area achieving equality, independence, and basic rights.
15 countries in the region still maintain personal status or family laws that see women as disobedient if they work outside the home, go on vacation, or leave the country without their male guardians’ permission.
Some hotels in countries including Yemen, Morocco, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, and Qatar ban women from making reservations without a male guardian.
Authorities in a number of MENA nations see men as the children’s natural guardians and refuse to provide women the right to custody of their own children.
Although there has been improvement in North Africa’s efforts to solve these issues, obstacles still exist because of social injustices, cultural standards, and economic inequities.