Labor Department to Spend $1 Million to Increase Gender Equality in Work – in Morocco

September 20, 2013 - 3:58 PM

Morocco Rape Law

FILE- In this Saturday, April 7, 2012 file photo, Zohra Filali, mother of Amina Filai, right, delivers a petition to the Moroccan government to stop the law which allows rapists to marry their victims and thus exonerate themselves, in Casablanca. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar, File)

( – The Labor Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs plans to award up to $1 million in taxpayer dollars to increase gender equality at work in Morocco.

The purpose of the grant is “to help build the capacity of civil society organizations, including non-governmental organizations and trade unions, in the Kingdom of Morocco to address working women's issues and empower women to more fully exercise their labor rights.”

“Projects awarded funding will be expected to work with local organizations to enhance service delivery to women on matters related to their labor rights and interests and to raise public awareness of women's labor rights,” the grant said.

“Women face significant hurdles in their efforts to gain employment, earn wages and benefits equal to men, obtain equal opportunities for training, and gain promotions on the basis of merit. As a result, despite Morocco’s legal advances, the labor force participation of women has slightly decreased over the past twenty years,” the grant announcement said.

“Only 26 percent of women, age 15 and older, compared to 80 percent of men, are active in the labor market; women own just 10 percent of firms in Morocco, and female purchasing power parity is estimated at $1,828, compared to $7,257, for males,” the grant said.

“Women’s lower levels of education, higher illiteracy rates, and greater likelihood of working in low-paying jobs, compared to men, are intermediate drivers of these differences,” it said.

“The agricultural and textile sectors are two low-wage sectors in which women commonly work; women make up more than 60 and 70 percent of the workforce in these sectors, respectively,” the grant said.

According to the State Department, a 2011 government report shows the rate of women’s participation in the Moroccan formal labor force was only 25.5 percent. A typical female worker earned just 17 percent of what a man earned.

Also, the majority of women were illiterate, and women were not represented in leadership positions in trade unions. However, most women were able to travel, receive loans and start businesses without the permission of their husbands or fathers, the report said.

The grant was announced on Aug. 13. The closing date for applications is Oct. 4. contacted the Labor Department for comment regarding the grant, but the department did not respond by press time.