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Empowerment of Women

Washington DC Forum Highlights Progress of Women in Morocco

USA-2008-10-29-Washington DC Forum Highlights Progress of Women in Morocco

On a blustery autumn afternoon in Washington, DC, the Women for Peace Forum brought together over 40 women leaders to discuss “Women’s Leadership in Building a Culture of Peace.” The forum focused on the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals, specifically #3: Promoting gender equality and empowering women.

Women from 15 countries participated, including wives of the ambassadors from Nepal, Haiti, and Zimbabwe, representing a strong showing from the diplomatic community. Tomiko Duggan, UPF International Director of Public Affairs, began with a brief summary of the vision of UPF and a report of her recent trips to Paraguay, Kenya, and Albania for the Global Peace Festival.

Mrs. Aicha Afifi, Deputy Chief of Mission from the Embassy of Morocco, delivered a PowerPoint presentation introducing her fascinating country, its geography, political structure, and the Moudawana, or the New Family Law (see details below). She explained how the new law supported women’s equality in granting them new rights in marriage, divorce, and child custody.

Another woman leader originally from St. Croix, Dr. Patricia Morris, Executive Director of Peace X Peace, began by introducing to the audience a bit of her island culture with calypso music. She spoke about the founding of the grassroots organization by women after the violence of 9/11. Women from around the globe have been sharing their life stories and breaking down the barriers of nationality and culture, creating lasting friendships and empowerment through the Global Women’s Network. She spoke about the "wisdom of women" in creating a culture of peace.

An interesting question and answer session followed the presentations, and there was time for the women sitting at each table to meet and get to know one another other, giving them a taste of the experiences people have during the women’s Peace X Peace Circles.

The afternoon ended with a moving song, “You Lift Me Up,” sung by Nanae Goto, and a peace toast offered by the MC, Susan Fefferman. Many guests stayed afterward to network and share their inspirations with each other.

The New Moroccan Family Law (adopted in 2004)


  • Husband and wife share joint responsibility for the family;
  • The wife is no longer legally obliged to obey her husband;
  • The adult woman is entitled to self-guardianship, rather than that of a male family member, and may exercise it freely and independently;
  • The minimum age of marriage is 18 for both men and women.


  • The right to divorce is a prerogative of both men and women, exercised under judicial supervision;
  • The principle of divorce by mutual consent is established.


  • Polygamy is subject to the judge’s authorization and to stringent legal conditions, making the practice nearly impossible;
  • The woman has the right to impose a condition in the marriage contract requiring that her husband refrain from taking other wives;
  • If there is no pre-established condition, the first wife must be informed of her husband’s intent to remarry, the second wife must be informed that her husband-to-be is already married, and moreover, the first wife may ask for a divorce due to harm suffered.

Enforcement of the Law:

  • The Family Law assigns a key role to the judiciary in upholding the rule of law and provides for the public prosecutor to be a party to every legal action involving the enforcement of Family Law stipulations.

Children’s Rights:

  • The woman is given the possibility of retaining custody of her child even upon remarrying or moving out of the area where her husband lives;
  • The child’s right to acknowledgment of paternity is protected in that case that the marriage has not been officially registered.

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