Time for Formal Legal Status: An Update on Women's Rights to Collective Lands in Morocco

Following five years of mobilization by women of collective lands (Soulaliyates) in Morocco, with the tireless support of WLP Morocco/Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM), and after the publication of two ministerial circulars (July 2009 and October 2010) recognizing the right of women to compensation related to land sales, on March 30, 2012 the Ministry of Interior released a new circular (Circular 17).

This circular is positive insofar as:
- It refers to the constitutional provisions on gender equality and the principle of non discrimination, and to the international convention CEDAW,
- It acknowledges and pays tribute to the support given to these women by civil society associations,
- It covers all the specificities of collective land profits (not only the sales) and recognizes the right of women according to these specificities.
Given the importance of the provisions of the new circular, on April 25 ADFM organized a press conference in Rabat under the slogan: "Soulaliyates: Circular 17…Pending a Specific Law that Guarantees Equality between Men and Women in the Collective Lands."
However, these developments are limited to the extent that the circulars remain ministerial guidelines with a relatively limited legal status. Moreover, the provisions of Circular 17 do not call for equality between men and women in all the cases developed along the circular (ref. Circ17).
Therefore, the promulgation of a law remains the best solution to protect Soulaliyate women's rights and ensure equality between men and women in collective lands. This is especially demonstrated by the fact that the last two circulars have faced many difficulties in terms of implementation, in particular a lack of monitoring by authorities.
Thus, ADFM, taking into account Article 15 of the Constitution, which gives citizens the right to present petitions to government, recently started collecting thousands of signatures from citizens to demand that the ministry enact, in accordance with the constitution, a specific law guaranteeing full equality between women and men belonging to the tribes of collective lands.
Moroccan Citizens may sign the signature here: http://www.e-joussour.net/fr/node/add/freepetition
S:SSO to Sakai