299 female graduates will become religious notaries for the first time in the history of Morocco as the position of women in Moroccan society develops.
Parts of North Africa are seeing a steady shift in perceptions of women and their position in society. Women are beginning to occupy higher posts in the different fields. In Morocco, women have taken a step in cementing their position in the field of law as hundreds of Moroccan have been inaugurated as religious public notaries for the first time.
Many in the country have considered this development as a step in the right direction towards the equality of men and women in society. Some even consider that this development will help to improve the status of women not only in the urban setting but in rural areas as well.
“[The acceptance of women] to this profession will play a major role especially in the rural areas where [women] often rely on men. Women in rural areas suffer from ignorance and illiteracy. This step is successful and positive”, said Omar Abjai, a social activist in Morocco.
Women’s access to the profession of religious notaries sparked a wide controversy across Morocco, but the Supreme Religious Council authorised the practice of women in accordance with Islamic law.
Thus far, much of the focus in Morocco with regards to women has been on sexual harassment. A law on violence against women was passed in February 2018. While this move is a good start, activists say that it hasn’t gone far enough to protect women from sexual harassment. As a result some activists have launched individual initiatives to try and help victims of sexual harassment.
In Tunisia, the government and non-governmental organisations have taken strides in improving the status of women in the country. In May 2018, Tunisia held its first municipal elections since the toppling of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. Women and young people were at the forefront of those elections, an unprecedented development in the Tunisian political scene. Women made up 47.7% of elected candidates following the elections.