Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

A Step Forward for Women?

As Hisham notes here, the Moroccan elections were significantly overshadowed on the world stage by those in Iran, and no wonder – no matter the outcome, they would have been met with little protest anyway.  What was notable this time around however was a rise in the number of female candidates, as reported by MAP: 20,458 women ran for 2009 local elections; 15.7% compared to only 4.8% in 2003, according to the Interior Ministry.  Even more notable is that Morocco’s second ever – and third – female mayors were elected…Fatima Zahra Mansouri was elected mayor of the growing city of Marrakesh (population of a little over a million), and Fatima Boujnah is the new PAM Mayor of Tizeght, at only 21 years old.

Now, as my friend Anas points out, she is backed by the newly formed Party for Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), dubbed the “King’s Party” by the blogoma, and is therefore perhaps just a royal pawn.  On the other hand, the ascendancy of a woman to a role that has almost exclusively been held by men since its inception (Asmaa Chaabi was the first female mayor in the country, elected in 2003 to Essaouira’s city hall) can’t be a bad thing.

On the other hand, the influx of women into candidacies is not a coincidence: a number of U.S. governmental organizations helped train female candidates, and party leaders are certainly aware that, in order to keep relevant, they must cater to the new voter demographics (young, and often female).

In a country where the literacy rate for women still lingers under 50%, it would seem that any step forward for women is a good thing.  But when those women are played as pawns by the governing elite, is it really a step in the right direction?

3 Comments

  1. The small village of Tizgui in SE Morocco (near Todra Gorge) just elected the first female in remembered history to its local governing committee. She didn’t train with any US government organizations, I’m just hoping it’s part of a larger overall trend. Perhaps, like some of her fellow electees in more powerful areas, she’s a pawn – but it’s a start.

  2. It’s definitely good to have women in the political scene… at least psychologically, this will -arguably- help mentalities shift from the current mean macho approach to a more modern, fair and inclusive system. Once we have said that, we mustn’t allow ourselves to accept political chicanery be covered up by the very gender of a candidate. The same goes for ethnicity or religious groups as Americans have experienced, maybe more than any other people in the world.

  3. Hisham, you’re absolutely right.

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