WLP Morocco/ADFM Organizes Seminar and Protest for Soulaliyate Women’s Land Rights

March 13, 2017

On March 2, 2017, WLP Morocco/L’Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM) convened a national seminar and sit-in outside Parliament in Rabat to demand gender equality in collective lands. The seminar provided a platform for Soulaliyate women “women of collective lands” to present to responsible authorities, journalists, and the public their demands and the difficulties they still face. Under the slogan “Soulaliyates Women from Exclusion to Empowerment: A Ten Year Battle,” hundreds of Soulaliyate women from different regions of Morocco convened on Parliament to demand the enactment of a law that guarantees equality between men and women in collective lands. The movement and sit-in were covered by Moroccan television and media outlets, as well as The New York Times and Spanish television.

Since 2006, ADFM has trained Soulaliyate communities in nearly every region of Morocco using WLP’s leadership and political participation curriculum. The Soulaliyates, comprising around 9 million people, hold rights to over 15 million hectares of Morocco’s collectively owned land. ADFM’s long-term capacity building activities have enhanced the leadership skills of Soulaliyate women and have established a mutual learning network among training participants. ADFM’s adaptation of WLP’s leadership curricula for this population has provided Soulaliyate women with the resources, skills, and tools to assert their rights to land, lead their communities, and recently, be eligible for and participate in decision-making processes as Naibates (tribal delegates).

In response to Soulaliyate protests in recent years, Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior issued several public declarations stating that women should benefit from selling the communal lands and should be a part of the negotiation process. However, the declarations are nonbinding; tribal delegates can choose to ignore them. As a result of the Soulaliyates’ organizing and the widespread media coverage, the Director of Rural Affairs at the Ministry of the Interior attended the March 2017 seminar, where he publicly expressed his commitment to take all necessary actions to ensure equality of collective lands.

"When we started to reclaim our rights, the men of the tribe were constantly threatening us to the point that we were afraid for our lives. But we carried ourselves well and today, we are stronger."

-Mina Nhaili, an organizer of El Haddada, a collective of about 4,000 Soulaliyates on the outskirts of Kenitra in northern Morocco

Women leaders from the communities provide informal mentoring, coaching, and support and facilitate the engagement and mobilization of the wider community and stakeholders. Ms. Fatima Alaoui, a Soulaliya woman from the Dkhissa tribe in Meknes, mobilized several groups of women from her region to raise awareness and file land claims. She meets with tribal representatives at the local and regional level to decide the future of the tribe.

In the coming months, ADFM plans to continue to train new groups of women and mentor and support women leaders among the Soulaliyates. The women share their knowledge and expertise with each other to make their demands heard by local and regional authorities.

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