The 2004 Moroccan Moudawana Reforms: Outcomes for Moroccan Women
Sakthivel, Vish A.
This paper examines the question of whether the 2004 reform of the Moroccan Moudawana law resulted in improved outcomes for Moroccan women by examining changes in attitudes towards women and women's economic activity before and after 2004. Using two waves of the World Values Survey (1999-2004 and 2005-2007) attitudes towards women are captured by examining approval of women's movements and of single motherhood, and economic participation is captured using the level of housewifery and women as chief wage earners. Divorce rates are also examined following the reforms' extension to women, of the right to initiate divorce. This paper asks whether--in spite of academic skepticism about the political motivation of the reforms, and the absence of satisfactory enforcement mechanisms--the reforms may have had some positive impacts on societal attitudes towards women's freedom, as well as women's economic empowerment through a new clause which prevents a husband from stopping his wife from work. Findings show a mixed picture of the impact of the reforms on Moroccan women's wellbeing; in other words, the study finds improvements in women's economic participation, and in some societal attitudes--but not others, and little change in women's ability to leave marriages. This mixed picture also makes less clear whether true and comprehensive change is something the Moroccan government intends.
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