The current population of Morocco is 37,577,156 as of Tuesday, January 11, 2022, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations dataMorocco population (live). Worldometer. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2022, from 99% of residents are Arab-Berber“Morocco”. World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Available at: , and the official religion is Islam with 99% of Moroccans Muslim and all the remaining religious affiliations accounting for less than 1% (including ChristiansJews, and Baháʼís). Those affiliated with Islam, virtually all are Sunni Muslims, with Shia Muslims accounting for less than 0.1%Ibid.,. Although Moroccans are being affiliated with Islam, 13% identifying themselves as not religious according to a 2019 survey conducted for the BBC by the research network Arab BarometerArab Barometer V. Morocco Country Report 2019. Available at: Accessed on January 11, 2022.

Information About Muslim Family Laws And/or Practices In Morocco

Main Laws That Govern Muslim Marriages

Morocco generally relies on a hybrid system of reference to regulate family issues, trying to harmonize Islam with international human rights declarations (notably CEDAW), along with the requirements of the modern eraThis can be inferred from the statement in the family code: “fidelity to the provisions of Sharia (religious law) and Islamic principles of tolerance, and encouraged the use of ijtihad (juridical reasoning) to deduce laws and precepts, while taking into consideration the spirit of our modern era and the imperatives of development, in accordance with the Kingdom’s commitment to internationally recognized human rights. Family Code (Moudawana)(2004),

Equal Status in Marriage

Unlike the previous family law, which defined the family as a social unit headed by the husband, the 2004 family law defines marriage in Article 4 as a “legal contract”, the purpose of which is “fidelity, virtue and the formation of a stable family under the supervision of both spouses”. Article 51 stipulates the mutual rights and duties between spouses and they include: (i) cohabitation, mutual respect, affection and the preservation of the family interest; (ii) both spouses assuming the responsibility of managing and protecting household affairs and the children’s education; (iii) consultation on decisions concerning the management of family affairs.

While Articles 4 and 51 attempt to set an egalitarian view that frames men and women’s relation in the Moroccan family, other Articles do not seem to treat women the same as men. Issues like providing the wife’s dowry upon marriage, the husband’s support of the family, providing the alimony in case of divorce, the division of property, guardianship over children, and inheritance are basically derived from the Islamic Sharia and are sometimes in favour of women and sometimes reinforce a subordinate position of women under the general social perception of the husband’s ‘qiwama’.

Minimum Age of Marriage

While the minimum age for marriage is 18 for females and males as per Article 19 of the MoudawanaArticle 19 of the Family Code (Moudawana)(2004),, Article 20 provides that the Family Affairs Judge may permit girls and boys below 18 to marry “in a well-substantiated decision explaining the reasons justifying the marriage”, after having heard the parents or legal guardian of the minor with the assistance of medical expertise or after having conducted a social enquiryArticle 20 of the Family Code (Moudawana) (2004), Article 21 specifies that the marriage of minors is contingent upon the consent of their legal tutor and if the minor’s legal tutor refuses to consent, the Family Affairs Judge rules on the matterArticle 21 of the Family Code (Moudawana) (2004),

Equal Divorce Provisions for Men and Women

Unlike the previous personal status code, where the most dominant way for the woman to get divorce was the exchange for Compensation (khol’) procedure, which allowed lot of men to blackmail their wives to get their freedom, the current family code came with a provision that makes divorce “a prerogative that may be exercised as much by the husband as by the wife, in accordance with legal conditions established for each party and under judicial supervision to control and restrict the abusive arbitrary practices of the husband in exercising repudiation.”Preamble of the Family Code (Moudawana)(2004),

Women, thus, became able to exercise a right that they were deprived of. However, this does not always go the same way as the man’s procedure.

The wife has the right to repudiate (talaq) the husband only if she already got that right from her husband (tamlik) during the time of signing the marriage contract (if this repudiation happens, the wife is not required to compensate the husband). Usually, such right is not spoken about at the moment of celebrating the start of a marital relationship.

Therefore, women either consensually agree with their husband on certain conditions to get divorced (consensual divorce), or resort to the tatliq procedure where they have to prove one of the five causes of divorce to be valid:

1- Non respect by the husband of one of the conditions in the marriage contract;

2- Harm;

3- Non maintenance;

4- Absence;

5- Latent defect;

6- Abstinence and abandonment

If the woman does not go through the (Khol’) type of divorce, and if she does not already have the tamlik as a legal condition, and if she does not reach a consensual form of divorce with her husband, and if she does not have one of the 6 causes to initiate the tatliq procedure, she then can resort to divorce for irreconcilable differences (Shiqaq) which has become the very dominant way of divorcing after the reform of the family codeMany people consider the reform of the family code responsible for the explosion of divorces, especially the tatliq and Shiqaq procedure: Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that the number of decisions concerning tatliq has risen from 9,983 in 2005 up to 21,328 in 2007, an increase of 113%. As we can easily imagine, the majority of the requests were presented by women, Nadia Lamlili, “Profession : adoul”, cit., p. 23. 

In divorce for irreconcilable differences, the same procedure applies for both the man and the woman insofar as sessions of conciliation are held by the court and the arbitrators and in case these attempts fail, the court grants the divorce and fixes the vested rights to be paid according to Articles 83, 84 and 85, taking into account each spouse’s responsibility for the cause of the separation. 

In irreconcilable differences divorce, if the wife is responsible for the separation, she only gets the Consolation Gift “Mut’a” (which is assessed based on the length of the marriage), but she is required to compensate the husband.

Among the reasons that grant the wife the right to ask for divorce is if she does not accept the polygamous situation, especially if the judge ensures that the husband cannot guarantee equal treatment of wives. 

One advantage for the woman in the new family code is that the verbal repudiation is no longer valid, and any divorce or repudiation is subject to family court ruling. Also, the husband and wife are now obliged to share property acquired during marriage, while still acknowledging the Islamic principle of separate properties.

Positive Feature(s) Under Muslim Family Law

The Moroccan Family Code is a law that emanated as a result of creating a bridge and a common ground between the conservatives and the “modernists” in the eve of the 21st century. Perhaps, the overarching positive feature of this law is its capacity to remain faithful to the Islamic spirit and meanwhile the requirements of gender equality in the modern time, or in Zakia Salime’s terms “Islamizing feminism and feminizing Islam”Zakya Salime. Between Feminism and Islam.Human Rights and Sharia Law in Morocco.(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2011)..

One example is that the Moroccan Family Code recognizes the right of the woman who has come of age to tutelage to enact the marriage contract without the permission of her guardian according to her choice and interests, on the basis of an interpretation of a holy verse stipulating that a woman cannot be compelled to marry against her will.

Administration Of And Access To Justice On Marriage And Family Matters

According to Chapter 18 of the Civil Procedure Code, “The courts of first instance – taking into account the special competences entrusted to the governors of the communes and the governors of the provinces – are competent to hear all civil, family, commercial, administrative and social cases at first, final or first instance, while preserving the right of appealhe Moroccan Civil Procedure Code. Chapter 18. Available at:,%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%A7%20%D9%85%D8%B9%20%D8%AD%D9%81%D8%B8%20%D8%AD%D9%82%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A6%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%81..

Therefore, Muslim Family law in Morocco is administered by family justice departments which are courts linked to the courts of first instance. These courts were gradually created starting from 2001 until 2004 with the launch of the Family Code Law, which deals with family and child affairs and the personal status of individuals, replacing the Personal Status Law that was in force before this dateBerrada, Rachid. « Family judiciary in Morocco ». December 22, 2013. Available at :

Constitutional Provisions and National Legislation

Constitutional Provisions

Morocco’s Constitution provides for gender equality in a number of provisions including the Preamble which commits the State to prohibit and combat discrimination against anyone on several basis, including sex. Article 6 speaks of equality before the law regardless of gender, and Article 19 provides for the equal enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights and freedoms by both men and women. Articles 19 and 164 stipulate for the creation of an Authority for Gender Equality and Action Against All Forms of Discrimination (APALD). The establishment of this Authority was announced in October 2017 in the official bulletin under number 6612. The Law No. 14.79 Relating to the Establishment of this Authority is tasked with monitoring and observing gender equality, parity and non-discrimination.

It is notable that the Constitution states in its preamble that the state commits itself “To comply with [accorder] the international conventions duly ratified by it, within the framework of the provisions of the Constitution and of the laws of the Kingdom, within respect for its immutable national identity, and on the publication of these conventions, [their] primacy over the internal law of the country, and to harmonize in consequence the pertinent provisions of national legislation.”Preamble of Morocco’s Constitution (2011), Article 19 of the Constitution follows this stipulation of gender equality by noting that this is “enounced in this Title and in the other provisions of the Constitution, as well as in the international conventions and pacts duly ratified by Morocco and this, with respect for the provisions of the Constitution, of the constants [constantes] of the Kingdom and of its laws”. Since Islam is one of the constants of the Kingdom, this leaves the door open to different understandings how Islam would be compatible with the international conventions or not.

Other National Laws

In 2018, Morocco passed a law that deals specifically with the issue of gender-based violence. This law is associated with the Penal Code.

The criminal legislative arsenal has been strengthened by a new law No. 103.13 related to combating violence against women.The English version of this law: This law, which entered into force in September 2018, aims to provide legal protection for women victims of violence, through four dimensions: preventive, protective, injunctive, and protective. 

This law included a set of provisions that change and complement the Penal Code such as:

  • Tightening the penalty for beating, wounding, or other violence or abuse if committed against a woman because of her gender/ if she is pregnant/ if her pregnancy is apparent/ if she has special needs/or suffers from mental weakness.
  • Preventing the convict from getting close to the victim.
  • Directing the convict to appropriate psychological treatment.
  • Criminalizing expulsion from the marital home, and assigning jurisdiction to the courts in whose district the person expelled from the marital home resides to consider cases filed in implementation of the requirements of Articles 479, 480, 480-1 of the Criminal Code, in addition to the applicable jurisdiction rules.
  • Criminalizing and punishing forced marriage, while stopping the follow-up on the complaint of the victim of the crime.
  • Suspending the right of associations to erect as a civil party to obtaining written permission from the victim.
  • Directing the victim to hospitalization centers for treatment.

In 2019, an unprecedented court order was issued by the court of appeal in Tangier sentencing a husband to 2 years for raping his wife. The court’s decision was based on Articles 485 and 400 of the Penal Code. Although Law 103-13 does not list marital rape as a punishable crime, the court’s decision was considered as a step towards criminalizing marital rape in MoroccoThe Legal Agenda website. “Tangiers Court of Appeal explicitly criminalizes marital rape”. 2019-12-19. Available at:

In addition to the family code, which appears to deal comprehensively with all marriage and family matters, we can refer to the nationality law which was amended in 2007, and the law No. 103.13 relating to combating violence against women, which entered into force in February 2018.

Regional or International Human Rights Principles

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

Morocco initially ratified the CEDAW in 1993 with reservations on the basis of religious argumentations. In December 2008, the King addressed a letter to the international community where he announces the withdrawal of Morocco’s reservations on some provisions of CEDAW, deeming them “obsolete” because Morocco has made major progress in the field of women’s rightsWomens UN Report Network. 2008. Accessed September 03, 2021. Three years later (in 2011), the Moroccan government sent a notification to the Secretary-General that it decided to withdraw the reservations made upon accession in respect of articles 9 (2) and 16 of the Convention. In July 2015, the Parliament adopted a bill approving the optional protocol to CEDAW which require states parties to be subject to questioning if the CEDAW Committee receives communications from individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of a violation of their rights under the ConventionMore information about this protocol:

The last CEDAW review was done in 2008.

Links to CEDAW reports that refer to Muslim family laws and practices

  1. The Inter-Ministerial Delegation for Human Rights in Morocco provides a link to download the three Summary records of the CEDAW on the 3rd and 4th periodic reportAccessible via this link
  2. In 2020, under Article 18 of the CEDAW Convention, the combined fifth and sixth periodic report was submitted by Morocco. This report summarizes measures taken between 2008 and 2018 in implementation of the ConventionThe report is downloadable here:
  3. In October 2020, Human Rights Watch submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s a review of the Kingdom of Morocco’s periodic report for the 79th Pre-SessionThis review is available here:
  4. In November 2020, some Advocates for Human Rights presented a report about Morocco’s Compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against WomenRA Mobilising for Rights Associate in collaboration with an alliance of Moroccan NGOs s. “Morocco’s Compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women”. Submitted on 12 October 2020. Available at:
  5. The international organization Sociologists for Women in Society published paper titled “Muslim Family Laws and CEDAW: A Fact Sheet” in 2015 discussing Muslim-majority states ratifications and reservations on CEDAWAvailable at:
  6. In 2014, Katja Žvan Elliott wrote an article titled “Morocco and Its Women’s Rights Struggle: A Failure to Live Up to Its Progressive Image”, where she contends that the way the reformed Family Code has formulated its goals and the way that the law and the state continue to conceptualize a woman go against the main principle of individuality contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and CEDAW to which Morocco has continually committed itself, at least on paperElliott, Katja _Z. 2014. Morocco and its women’s rights struggle: A failure to live up to its progressive image. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 10 (2): 1–30.
  7. UN Women acknowledges Musawah’s submission that full implementation of CEDAW is possible in Muslim-majority countriesAvailable at:
  8. UN Women makes reference to Musawah’s policy brief which outlines how divorce provisions in many Muslim family laws are unfair and can be damaging to women and their childrenAvailable at:
  9. UN Women makes reference to Musawah’s policy brief about the importance of ending polygamy in Muslim marriages, and advocates for monogamy as laid out in the Qur’anAvailable at:
  10. UN Women makes reference to Musawah’s policy brief which outlines the case for reform to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 for girls and boysAvailable at: .
  11. UN Women makes reference to Musawah’s policy brief about “Why Muslim Family Law Reform? Why Now?”Available at:
  12. UN Women makes reference to the thematic paper titled “Who Provides? Who Cares? Changing Dynamics in Muslim Families”, which examines economic and parental rights and responsibilities in Muslim familiesAvailable at:
  13. UN Women makes reference to Musawah’s series of knowledge briefs on Islam and the Question of Gender Equality which provide advocacy arguments and convey key ideas and concepts related to Muslim legal traditions in a simple and appealing wayAvailable at:
  14. UN Women acknowledges Egypt’s Dar El-Ifta working to end harmful practices against womenAvailable at:

Links to Concluding Observations That Refer to Reform of Muslim Family Laws and Practices

  • CEDAW’s concluding observations are usually addressing states’ policies rather than Muslim family laws and practices. However, in the case of Morocco, although there is no indication to Islam or Muslim family laws, two concluding observations seem to touch upon this issue. First: the point that “the State party’s legislation does not contain an explicit definition of the principle of equality between women and men or of discrimination on the basis of sex”. Second, the point of “ensuring the precedence of international instruments, including the Convention, over national legislation”See “Concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women” Morocco. 8 April 2008. Page 3. Available at:
  • It should be noted that these concluding observations were included in the last CEDAW review in 2008. Morocco then included in its new Constitution the principle of gender equality in all spheres and areas and made reference to the precedence of international laws over national ones binding it to the respect of the constants (which include moderate Islam) of the Kingdom and of its laws. Therefore, as indicated before, defining and ensuring gender equality might not accord exactly with CEDAW’s postulates, especially in family issues insofar as this remains subject to Morocco’s adherence and interpretation of one of its “constants” (Islam).

Any other relevant regional or international treaty or convention signed by Morocco

Other treaties

List of International Human Rights Treaties Ratified by Morocco available at this website 

  • 1970 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)Available at: 
  • 1979 Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). Morocco’s Fourth periodic State Party reportsAvailable at:
  • 1979 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR). Morocco’s Sixth periodic State Party report
  • 1993 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). List of issues and questions in relation to the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of MoroccoAvailable at:
  • 1993 Committee against Torture (CAT). Morocco’s response to the concluding observations of the Committee against TortureAvailable at:
  • 1993 Convention on the Rights of the Child. (CRC). Morocco’s Second periodic State Party reportAvailable at:
  • 1993 Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW). List of issues prior to submission of the second periodic report of MoroccoAvailable at:
  • 2009 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Morocco’s Initial State Party reportsAvailable at:
  • 2013 The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED)Available at:

Sustainable Development Goals

  • Morocco is among 47 countries to carry out a 2020 Voluntary National Review regarding the country’s progress toward the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. Under the High Directives of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and with His active engagement, the Kingdom of Morocco by subscribing in 2015, with the community sustainable development goals, from the outset, considered these objectives to be one of the structuring dimensions of its model national development, the renovation of which is now subject to a vast national debateMorocco’s Voluntary National Review 2020. Available at: .
    The last Morocco’s national report (2020) is published and available at this link:

Key Resources About Muslim Family Law

By local researchers, activists and civil society groups

  • Léon Buskens. (2003).Recent debates on family law reform in Morocco: Islamic law as politics in an emerging public sphere”. Islamic Law and Society 10/1, 70–131.

This article was written in 2003, right before the reform of the family code. It argues that the Moroccan debate over the reform of the Moudawwana shows that in order to understand Islamic family law, we should analyze it as a political phenomenon. Its author treats the current debates in Morocco as an example of how family law and gender serve as powerful political symbols in the modern Muslim world. In many Muslim societies, and that it is impossible to speak about family law except in terms of Islam. This implies that every codification of family law entails a selection, interpretation and re-creation of classical fiqh norms. The content of the law is a social construction, shaped by political considerations.1 Hence, public discussion about family law raises larger questions, e.g., who may participate in politics and what views about Islam may be expressed in the public sphere?

This article highlights the role of the Moroccan feminist movement in the promulgation of the new Family Law by feminizing of a once male-dominated public space in Morocco. This was achieved thanks to espousing universal values and adopting local, appropriate and pragmatic strategies to involve the major political actors in the reform. The article upholds that the major issue today is to seek efficient ways to implement the new Family Law through the sensitization of women, men and families to the important changes that have been introduced and incite judges to apply the new law without any reservation.

In this article, Aïcha El Hajjami analyses the debates that preceded the 2004 Moroccan Family Code reforms. El-Hajjami argues that changing the Moroccan law concerning women was a legitimate goal, and enlarging the circle of ijtihad was a historical necessity that was highly discussed. Therefore, the reformed family code, based both on Islamic sources and international human rights, showed that legal reform towards gender equality is possible.

This article examines the rarely talked about subtleties of Moroccan reform in the realm of women’s rights and its inadequate fulfillment of obligations to international human rights standards. The Preamble to Morocco’s post-Arab Spring 2011 constitution follows the example of its 1996 version, in which the state declared its “determination to abide by the universally recognised human rights.” However, while the state is often hailed in the international forums and media as a true trendsetter in the realm of women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa region, this analysis of the much celebrated Family Code and its two main goals-“doing justice to women” and “preserving men’s dignity”-and of the regime’s ambivalent discourse on gender equality as defined by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) paints a more realistic picture. Both of these cases indicate that the state is failing to ameliorate the legal position of women and to consider women as autonomous and individual human beings with intrinsic rights not contingent upon first fulfilling their customary obligations. I contend, therefore, that the way the reformed Family Code has formulated its goals and the way that the law and the state continue to conceptualize a woman go against the main principle of individuality contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and CEDAW to which Morocco has continually committed itself, at least on paper.

  • Cesari, Joycelyne. 2017. “State, Islam and Gender.” In Islam, Gender and Democracy in Comparative Perspective, edited by Jocelyne Cesari and José Casanova, 15-45. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This volume reframes the debate around Islam and women’s rights within a broader comparative literature. It examines the complex and contingent historical relationships between religion, secularism, democracy, law, and gender equality. Part I addresses the nexus of religion, law, gender, and democracy through different disciplinary perspectives (sociology, anthropology, political science, law). Part II localizes the implementation of this nexus between law, gender, and democracy, and provides contextualized responses to questions raised in Part I. The contributors explore the situation of Muslim women’s rights vis-à-vis human rights to shed light on gender politics in the modernization of the nation and to ponder over the role of Islam in gender inequality across different Muslim countries.



By government agencies/committees

After more than ten years since the entry into force of the Family Code, it is legitimate to ask about the representations of Moroccan citizens, their attitudes and practices, which is the problematic subject of this study and field research. This requires accurate and clear answers to questions like:

 Are we currently experiencing actual transformations in representations and attitudes, and in particular in the daily practices of men and women?

within the family?

 What are these transformations and their manifestations?

 What are the levels of emergence of these transformations, and to what extent can they be observed?

 What are the dimensions of these transformations?

 How are these transformations lived within society?

 Which areas are more resistant to change than others?

 How do spouses today live their marital relationship after ten years of implementing the code?

 Any new conception of society regarding marriage.

To provide answers to all these questions, the initiative of the Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development comes to accomplish this research about ten years of applying the Family Code.

The National Human Rights Council (CNDH) released, in a press conference held on Tuesday, 20 Oct. 2015, a report on gender equality and parity in Morocco. Four years after the new constitution, ten years after reforming the Family Code, and 20 years  after the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, this comprehensive report, first on the kind, gives an analysis of all sort of achievements, efforts, inequalities, gaps, challenges, and obstacles that hinder or slow progress in this area and from fully enjoying all their human rights.

Diagnosing the situation of violence against women in Morocco aims to identify the strengths and shortcomings which will help draw plans that seek to identify and categorize the required actions. Therefore, the most important results of this Diagnosis can be summarized as follows:

  1. Strong constitutional and legal consolidation to combat violence and discrimination against women and girls needs activation and evaluation
  2. Sectoral initiatives that require an inclusive vision that defines roles and responsibilities at the national, regional and local levels
  3. A diverse institutional environment that needs to be settled and developed at the regional and local levels
  4. multi-entry approach that needs to strengthen the preventive and protective dimensions
  5.  distinguished partnership with civil society working in the field, in the absence of evaluation and development at the village level
  6. Services in an evolutionary path but not available in all areas and lacking in quality
  7. The emergence of new manifestations of violence and difficulties in exploiting opportunities to besiege the phenomenon.


By international bodies

This study examined the impact of the implementation of the reforms in a de jure vs. de facto approach; and provide an assessment of the social and institutional barriers restricting women’s ability to exercise their rights under the family law.The study will be divided in three sections. Section I provides an overview of the reformed Moudawana’s advances and the different legal, policy, institutional and other initiatives and mechanisms put in place to support the implementation of the reformed Family law. Section II assesses the status of implementation of the reformed Moudawana, with a focus on the following levels: judicial system; law enforcement; government policy and allocation of resources; capacity building for administrators of women’s access to justice; public knowledge and perceptions on the reformed Moudawana, with a main objective focusing on discrepancies of women’s access to justice between rural and urban areas in Morocco; and Section III presents key recommendations and conclusions to advance women’s access to justice under the family law.

The revised Moudawana closed a number of gender gaps related to family and personal life, making it one of the most progressive family law frameworks in the MENA region in terms of gender equality. The ten year anniversary of the reforms has sparked discussions about progress on implementation and emerging impact. Ten years is a relatively short time period to affect major changes in family life, especially if social norms restrict gains in women’s agency that should result from legislative reforms. Yet it is an opportune time to measure where there has been progress. The Ministry of Justice and Liberty has proposed measuring implementation of the Moudawana as part of its Charter for the Reform Judicial System, adopted in summer 2013. And the issue of women’s agency in family life is being assessed as part of the World Bank’s Morocco Country Gender Assessment 2014.

OECD Development Centre’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI). Morocco’s Gender Index 2019.

This document, produced by the OECD Development Centre’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), seeks to measure discrimination against women in social institutions in Morocco. It takes into account laws, social norms and practices with reference to “Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor gender equality and women’s empowerment.” The 2019 report highlights some aspects of gender discrimination in the family listing a number of issues like: child marriage, household responsibilities, divorce, and inheritance, to end up evaluating this discrimination as very high at 73%.

National Groups and Campaigns Working on Muslim Family Law

The major campaign that has stirred the woman’s question in Morocco is the “one million signature campaign”. This initiative was launched by the “Union for Women’s Action (UAF) through its newspaper, 8 Mars, on 3 March 1992. It was a petition in favor of reforming the Moudawana (formerly called the Personal Status Code). Although the campaign could not lead to major changes in the Personal Status Code,  it provided a ground for bringing the woman’s issue into the surface as a massive public debate and could push King Hassan II to introduce minor amendments which were seen as significant in the sense that it lifted the sacredness of the previous lawMore details on this campaign: .

Apart from feminist associations’ coalitions, which strengthen the feminist work in the country, such as “The Spring of Dignity Network” (was created in 2008), and the “Spring of Feminist Democracy and Equality,” (emerged in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings in 2011); we can speak today about the “after 10 years”More information on the “after 10 years” occasion to call for revising the family code: and “after 15 years” occasions to call for revising the family code. The last campaign, which took place in 2019, was launched through a conference that was held in Rabat under the title “For a family law that guarantees relevance and equality,” to demand urgent action to review and update the Family Code in order to address its shortcomings and implementation problemsMore information available at this link: 

Organizations that work on Muslim family law related issues can be broadly divided into two types: secular and Islamic 

Chronologically, secular organizations took the lead in this field with associations like:

  • The Democratic Association for Moroccan Women ADFM
  • The Union of Feminine Action UAF
  • Association Jossour (FFM) meaning the forum for Moroccan women
  • the Federation of the Democratic League for Women’s Rights (FLDDF)

These associations were created before the 21st century, signifying a longstanding activism compared with Islamic women’s rights NGOs

  • The organization of women’s awareness renewal (ORWA) (Munaddamat Tajdid al-Wa’i al-Nisa’i)
  • Forum Azzahrae (Azzahrae Forum for the Moroccan woman)

This is an open source link to download a list of associations that work on women’s rights issues, classified based on regions and cities:لائحة+بأسماء+الجمعيات+النسوية.pdf/file

Reform Timeline


Newly-independent Morocco adopted the Moudawana, a traditional code of family law


women in Morocco held a “One Million Signatures petition” led by l’Union de l’Action Féminine


Minor reforms were introduced to the Moudawana


Morocco ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)


A minister in the government proposed the National Action Plan for the Integration of Women in Development (PANIFD), which sparked the huge societal debate about women’s rights in Morocco


The King established an advisory commission—three women and 11 men—tasked with revising the Code of Personal Status


at the opening of the fall session of Parliament in 2003, the King made an historic speech announcing the changes. The new law was submitted to Parliament and adopted in January 2004 with some procedural amendments


Morocco reformed its Nationality Code where children became allowed to take the nationality of their mother at birth


The King addressed a letter to the international community where he announces the withdrawal of Morocco’s reservations on some provisions of CEDAW


The Moroccan government sent a notification to the Secretary-General that it decided to withdraw the reservations made upon accession in respect of articles 9 (2) and 16 of the Convention


Morocco introduced a new Constitution where gender equality is clearly stipulated in Articles 6 and 19 and 164


Morocco deleted Article 475 (2) from the Penal Code which de-criminalizes a rape if the rapist later marries their victim

Following a public outcry because of the suicide of 16-year-old Amina Filali.


The creation of an Authority for Gender Equality and Action Against All Forms of Discrimination which is tasked with monitoring and observing gender equality, parity and non-discrimination


For the first time; women could access quasi-judicial professions, namely public notaries, after 299 of females could pass the exam, representing 37%


The entry into force of Law 103.13 relating to combating violence against women



This country page was prepared by Ilyass Bouzghaia as a collaboration under the Campaign for Justice in Muslim Family Laws. 

Ilyass Bouzghaia is an Assistant professor of English at Sidi Mohamed ben Abdellah University, Sais. Fes. He is also a researcher at The Center for Women’s Studies in Islam affiliated to Rabita Muhammadia of Ulema ( He obtained his PhD in 2021 and graduated from Women’s and Gender Studies master program. He has written several articles in English and Arabic on issues related to women’s rights and Islamic feminism. He is a CELTA holder with a large experience in English language teaching.