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Women's Empowerment and the Feminization of Poverty among

Women's Empowerment and the Feminization of Poverty among

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I. INTRODUCTIONAttitudes about gender inequality in terms <strong>of</strong> female rights are evolving within societiesworldwide – including within inegalitarian structures that empower men to dominate womenaccording to gender-role ideologies:The power <strong>of</strong> customary constructions <strong>of</strong> de jure rights over recentlyintroduced legal ones also raises a question about processes <strong>of</strong> social changewhich has yet to be satisfactorily answered in <strong>the</strong> empowerment literature:How do attempts to change deeply entrenched structures, in this case, pitting<strong>the</strong> law against rules legitimized by custom <strong>and</strong> religion, translate intochanges in individual agency <strong>and</strong> choice? (Kabeer, 1999: 444)While some women in developing regions have charged Western feminists with qualifying femalerights by cultural relativism, patriarchy <strong>and</strong> limiting women’s access to <strong>the</strong> public sphere isuniversal, though expressed differently across cultures. Therefore, movement toward globalwomen’s empowerment requires academics <strong>and</strong> practitioners in gender <strong>and</strong> development (GAD) t<strong>of</strong>ind common pains, values, challenges <strong>and</strong> goals (Billson <strong>and</strong> Fleuhr-Lobban, 2005: 399).This study analyzes <strong>the</strong> Kingdom <strong>of</strong> Morocco as a functioning inegalitarian societyattempting to progress toward women’s empowerment <strong>and</strong> isolates a traditional town within it todemonstrate how, in <strong>the</strong> context <strong>of</strong> social change, to best address <strong>the</strong> link <strong>of</strong> women’s empowermentwith gendered poverty. Morocco’s experience <strong>of</strong> urbanization after independence from Frenchcolonial rule in 1956 changed societal norms <strong>and</strong> resulted in liberal cities <strong>and</strong> conservative ruralareas (Dwyer, 1978: 120). Thus, <strong>the</strong> case study is set in a large town located in <strong>the</strong> rural southwhich lacks a dramatic shift in economic priorities toward international markets, unlike its urbancounterparts in nor<strong>the</strong>rn Morocco: “Thus, <strong>the</strong> city <strong>of</strong> Taroudannt displays a less radical dislocation<strong>of</strong> style, goals <strong>and</strong> images from <strong>the</strong> past than have certain o<strong>the</strong>r regions <strong>of</strong> Morocco” (Ibid.: 8).Ultimately, <strong>the</strong> following study emphasizes <strong>the</strong> need for gendered poverty literature toconceptualize a holistic framework “to encapsulate gendered privation – encompassing capabilities,livelihoods, subjectivities <strong>and</strong> social exclusion” (Chant, 2006: 203). This includes less generalizedassumptions; <strong>the</strong>refore, <strong>the</strong> focus is on one highly heterogeneous group <strong>of</strong> women – female-headedhouseholds. Lessening <strong>the</strong> precedented emphasis on quantitative dimensions <strong>of</strong> income allows for aholistic step toward qualitative dimensions <strong>of</strong> choices <strong>and</strong> options. Incorporating <strong>the</strong> disciplines <strong>of</strong>political science, anthropology, sociology, economics, history, <strong>and</strong> law, this study contributes to <strong>the</strong>GAD discourse, which “exposes structural, asymmetrical power relations between <strong>the</strong> sexes, <strong>and</strong>does not regard economic growth as a prerequisite for improving women’s living conditions,”instead highlighting qualitative, power-related legal <strong>and</strong> social obstacles to women’s empowerment1


(Johnsson-Latham, 2010: 41). This opposes <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r gendered poverty school <strong>of</strong> thought – <strong>the</strong>dominant discourse <strong>of</strong> economic growth <strong>and</strong> quantitative measurements – which ignores <strong>the</strong>multidimensionality <strong>of</strong> gender disadvantage (Ibid.).Morocco provides a contemporary context <strong>of</strong> social transformation from legal, socioeconomic<strong>and</strong> cultural inequalities; however, to have explanatory reach in GAD, this studyincorporates participatory tools. These have been regarded as invaluable in assessing <strong>the</strong> genderdimensions <strong>of</strong> poverty as <strong>the</strong>y include women’s voices, a “potentially important step towardenhancing <strong>the</strong> gender-responsiveness <strong>of</strong> poverty assessment” (Chant, 2007: 59). The contextualapproach to <strong>the</strong> Moroccan situation <strong>of</strong> female-headed households complemented by participatoryresearch from a particular rural community seeks: to conceptually examine <strong>the</strong> validity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory; to empirically explore <strong>the</strong> nature <strong>of</strong> women’s empowerment <strong>among</strong>female-headed households from a gender perspective; <strong>and</strong> to present implications <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> nature <strong>of</strong>inequality experienced within wider society in legal, socio-economic <strong>and</strong> cultural terms. Theaddition <strong>of</strong> participatory research – inclusive <strong>of</strong> varying life stages, marital arrangements,education, employment, social networks, <strong>and</strong> self-confidence – illustrates <strong>the</strong> need for subjective<strong>and</strong> culturally specific data.The following literature review discusses concepts <strong>of</strong> women’s empowerment, feminization<strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory, female-headed households, <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> linkages between all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se in <strong>the</strong> currentGAD discourse. It challenges <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory for having simplified notions <strong>of</strong>both poverty <strong>and</strong> gender <strong>and</strong> glossing over major gender-power issues in feminized poverty bothwithin <strong>and</strong> beyond household-level (Chant, 2010: 3). The methodology chapter <strong>the</strong>n explains <strong>the</strong>present study’s approach to analysis <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> legal, socio-economic <strong>and</strong> cultural realms <strong>of</strong> Morocco,specifically <strong>the</strong> participatory research in a women’s group in Taroudannt. The next chapter situates<strong>the</strong> case study in <strong>the</strong> Moroccan legal, socio-economic <strong>and</strong> cultural experience. The case study <strong>of</strong>Taroudannt follows to apply qualitative data to <strong>the</strong> discussed concepts <strong>of</strong> women’s empowerment,feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>and</strong> female-headed households. Finally, this study concludes with a briefconjecture <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> research implications.2


II. ANALYSIS OF EXISTING LITERATUREConceptualization <strong>of</strong> women’s empowermentTamkine – ‘empowerment’ in Arabic – is <strong>the</strong> initiative <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Kingdom <strong>of</strong> Morocco’sMinistry <strong>of</strong> Social Development, Family <strong>and</strong> Solidarity launched in 2008 to combat violenceagainst women (Bordat, 2011: 91). To explore <strong>the</strong> nature <strong>of</strong> women’s empowerment <strong>among</strong> femaleheadedhouseholds in rural Morocco, this chapter must first focus on <strong>the</strong> conceptualization <strong>of</strong>‘empowerment’ from a gender perspective as used in GAD studies. To even begin with an image <strong>of</strong>an empowered woman is a dilemma <strong>of</strong> sorts, which Naila Kabeer describes as <strong>the</strong> tendency torepresent ‘<strong>the</strong> self’ in representing ‘<strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r’ in her research:Although this portrayal <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ‘average’ disempowered Third World womanwas intended to evoke sympathy <strong>and</strong> action on <strong>the</strong>ir behalf, its reductionismreflected <strong>the</strong> fact that <strong>the</strong> social distances <strong>of</strong> location, class, nationality <strong>and</strong>language which <strong>of</strong>ten separate researcher <strong>and</strong> ‘researched’ in <strong>the</strong> socialsciences tend to be particularly large in <strong>the</strong> development field (1999: 459).O<strong>the</strong>r researchers find that <strong>the</strong>ir own personal satisfactions are linked to “realising one’s capacities<strong>and</strong> fulfilling one’s social roles within a matrix <strong>of</strong> shifting <strong>and</strong> negotiated relationships” (Moore,2010: 36). This dilemma in a conversation <strong>of</strong> advocacy <strong>of</strong> gender equality <strong>and</strong> developmenttranslates <strong>the</strong> concept from “feminist insights into <strong>the</strong> discourse <strong>of</strong> policy,” losing some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>“original political edge <strong>of</strong> feminism” (Kabeer, 1999: 436).Scholars <strong>and</strong> organizations worldwide use different interpretations <strong>of</strong> empowerment, <strong>and</strong> notall accept that ‘empowerment’ can be clearly defined – many feminists even value <strong>the</strong> “fuzziness”<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> concept (Ibid.). Despite being one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most contested terms both within <strong>and</strong> beyonddevelopment fields, <strong>the</strong> notion <strong>of</strong> empowerment is accepted by <strong>the</strong> majority as not an end in itself,but as a process – built upon <strong>the</strong> work <strong>of</strong> Michael Foucault (McIlwaine, 2012c: 4). <strong>Empowerment</strong> isnot a uniform process <strong>and</strong> depends on <strong>the</strong> context in which it is realized: “[It] will be influenced by<strong>the</strong> intersection <strong>of</strong> social relations <strong>and</strong> individual histories which form <strong>the</strong> vantage point from which<strong>the</strong>y view <strong>the</strong>se new possibilities” (Kabeer, 1999: 460).The definition <strong>of</strong> women’s empowerment used in <strong>the</strong> present study is as a multidimensionalprocess <strong>of</strong> change within <strong>the</strong> livelihood approach to poverty. This combines both <strong>the</strong> feministempowerment <strong>and</strong> poverty alleviation paradigms supported by <strong>the</strong> ideas <strong>of</strong> Jo Rowl<strong>and</strong>s <strong>and</strong> Kabeer(Chant, 2007: 37). Rowl<strong>and</strong>s conceptualizes empowerment as access to decision-making <strong>and</strong>change in people’s perceptions <strong>of</strong> self in three dimensions (1996: 86; Chant, 2012c: 4):3


alternatives <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> ability to have chosen o<strong>the</strong>rwise,” based on Amaryta Sen’s focus <strong>of</strong> ‘power’within empowerment (Kabeer, 1999: 437; Sen, 1985).In <strong>the</strong> field <strong>of</strong> development, this equation between power <strong>and</strong> choice requires <strong>the</strong> input <strong>of</strong>gender subjectivity to complete <strong>the</strong> conceptualization <strong>of</strong> women’s empowerment. The importance<strong>of</strong> a gender ‘lens’ to examine <strong>the</strong> gender-poverty nexus stems from <strong>the</strong> common misconception thatgender is synonymous with women. As gender does refer to <strong>the</strong> multidimensional process <strong>of</strong>images, ideas, differences, <strong>and</strong> hierarchies becoming socially institutionalized practices, using agender lens keeps away from solidifying gendered poverty concepts that are in reality diversified by<strong>the</strong> varying circumstances <strong>of</strong> social groups (Davids <strong>and</strong> Driel, 2010: 108). Importantly, GADresearcher Sylvia Chant fur<strong>the</strong>r connects gendered subjectivities across different levels, domains<strong>and</strong> cultural underst<strong>and</strong>ings as <strong>the</strong> “way people imagine <strong>and</strong> experience <strong>the</strong> nature <strong>and</strong> value <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>embodied, gendered self, <strong>and</strong> how <strong>the</strong>y orient <strong>the</strong>mselves within a set <strong>of</strong> relationships thatpractically <strong>and</strong> ethically define a complex moral terrain” (2010: 37). Processes <strong>of</strong> economic <strong>and</strong>political transformations can both undermine <strong>and</strong> solidify current cultural <strong>and</strong> socialunderst<strong>and</strong>ings, which shape gendered subjectivities, particularly in societies where differences <strong>of</strong>power <strong>and</strong> choice pervade social relations (Ibid.: 38).The reality <strong>of</strong> gender subjectivity gives way to a notion <strong>of</strong> self that sacrifices individuality toaccommodate imposed gender roles. In studies <strong>of</strong> gender alienation, societies can negate gender <strong>of</strong>‘<strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r’ <strong>and</strong> lose appreciation, respect, <strong>and</strong> tolerance <strong>of</strong> ‘<strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r,’ an aspect advanced by DanielGhanim in his gender studies <strong>of</strong> violence in <strong>the</strong> Middle East (2009: 79). As <strong>the</strong> concept <strong>of</strong>empowerment includes a process <strong>of</strong> change in <strong>the</strong> image <strong>of</strong> self, it inherently requires a healthyrelationship to ‘<strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r.’ Ghanim argues that <strong>the</strong> social constructions <strong>of</strong> masculinity <strong>and</strong> femininityexaggerate differences <strong>and</strong> oppositions between categories <strong>of</strong> active males <strong>and</strong> passive females,which does not afford “a healthy socially existing self <strong>and</strong> unconstrained interactions with <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r,[which] are both basic human rights that any society should guarantee its citizens, regardless <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong>ir sex” (Ibid.: 79).An example <strong>of</strong> such a disruptive societal structure that forces women to live a dividedprivate <strong>and</strong> public life is patriarchy, which Dwyer <strong>and</strong> Bruce argue as repressive <strong>of</strong> women’ssexuality, emotions, aspirations, <strong>and</strong> individualities on both a gender <strong>and</strong> generational level (1988:193). In anthropological literature on sexuality, patriarchal society holds a double-st<strong>and</strong>ard norm <strong>of</strong>heterosexual relationships in that female sexual activity is prevalent to shame <strong>and</strong> dishonor, “a verycommon societal response to <strong>the</strong> sexual maturation <strong>of</strong> males <strong>and</strong> females” (Davis, 1989: 133).5


In recognition <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> importance <strong>of</strong> both Chant’s cross-cultural consideration <strong>of</strong> gendersubjectivity <strong>and</strong> Dwyer <strong>and</strong> Bruce’s assertion that <strong>the</strong> denial <strong>of</strong> a natural right like sexuality canmake it “easy for society to deny o<strong>the</strong>r natural rights such as access to wealth <strong>and</strong> decision-makingcapabilities,” it is vital to note <strong>the</strong> Islamic feminism approach toward women’s empowerment inorder to <strong>the</strong>n contextualize <strong>the</strong> present study on <strong>the</strong> Muslim society <strong>of</strong> rural Morocco (Dwyer <strong>and</strong>Bruce, 1988: 192). A strong opposition between secular feminism <strong>and</strong> Islamic feminism thrives infeminist reform models, leaving no middle-ground in <strong>the</strong> debate. The Qur’anic interpretation <strong>of</strong>gender equality remains <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>oretical core <strong>of</strong> Islamic feminism (Badran, 2006). Secular feministslike Haideh Moghissi present a valid deconstruction <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> merits <strong>of</strong> Islamic feminism in <strong>the</strong> context<strong>of</strong> social <strong>the</strong>ory as “an apologist philosophy that serves to undermine <strong>the</strong> liberal goals <strong>of</strong> secularfeminism while legitimating an inherently unjust religion” (Ibid.).Through his comparative analysis <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> grassroots movement <strong>of</strong> family code reforms across<strong>the</strong> Maghreb, Brian Archer demonstrates how secular feminism may be a reasonable challenge toIslamic feminism; however, he more convincingly shows <strong>the</strong> gains that Muslim women are makingvia an Islamic feminist framework (Archer, 2007: 50). In <strong>the</strong> example <strong>of</strong> Moroccan women’sempowerment, <strong>the</strong> Islamic feminist reform model used in <strong>the</strong> 2004 Moudawana 1 reforms “seeks toutilize <strong>the</strong> egalitarian tenets <strong>of</strong> Islam as a basis upon which to expose <strong>and</strong> undermine <strong>the</strong> unjustnature <strong>of</strong> misogynistic family laws; it engenders progressive change” (Ibid.). Theoretically,“attempts at reforming family laws anywhere in Islamic societies can never be a truly feministendeavor, seeing how any legal changes would occur within a politico-socio-religious system inwhich men wield ultimate control” (Ibid.: 51). Moghissi opposes Islamic feminists for ignoring <strong>the</strong>“very real suffering experienced by Muslim women whose agency is genuinely stifled byoppressive norms <strong>and</strong> practices” (1999: 43).I fault secular feminism in practice in <strong>the</strong> Moroccan example only, because it “seeks todefine all women primarily in terms <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir gender, <strong>of</strong>ten at <strong>the</strong> expense <strong>of</strong> one’s religiousidentity….a rejection <strong>of</strong> what for many Muslim women forms <strong>the</strong> core <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir selfidentity”(Archer, 2007: 57). Alternatively, Islamic feminism is a legitimate <strong>and</strong> effective movementtoward women’s empowerment in Muslim societies, because it’s an ideology that “expresslyacknowledges that for many Muslim women, <strong>the</strong>ir self-identity as believers precedes <strong>the</strong>ir genderedidentification” (Ibid.: 53). The 2004 revision <strong>of</strong> Moudawana made it “<strong>the</strong> most gender-egalitarianShar’ia-grounded civil code” (Badran, 2006). Ultimately, <strong>the</strong> Moroccan Islamic feminist reformmodel sparked an “inter-Islamic phenomenon produced by Muslims at various locations around <strong>the</strong>1Moudawana is <strong>the</strong> Moroccan Islamic Code <strong>of</strong> Personal Status <strong>and</strong> Inheritance, also referred to as Family Code.6


globe” – Tunisia, Algeria, Malaysia – with its family code triumphs predicted to be “<strong>the</strong>enhancement <strong>of</strong> social justice <strong>and</strong> equality in <strong>the</strong> African <strong>and</strong> Asian societies where Muslimslive” (Badran, 2006).Today, very few contend that women’s empowerment exists outside <strong>of</strong> a process <strong>of</strong> change.Bourdieu’s dated idea <strong>of</strong> ‘doxa’ refers to traditions <strong>and</strong> beliefs that are so naturalized within aculture that <strong>the</strong>y challenge <strong>the</strong> fundamental level <strong>of</strong> reality <strong>of</strong> empowerment (1977: 7). It can behelpful to consider doxa to focus away from <strong>the</strong> consciousness <strong>of</strong> empowerment <strong>and</strong> on <strong>the</strong> realities<strong>of</strong> specific societies. According to Bourdieu, empowerment can be conceptualized only when <strong>the</strong>reis a loss <strong>of</strong> naturalization <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong>re are “material <strong>and</strong> cultural possibilities” <strong>of</strong> competing ways <strong>of</strong>being <strong>and</strong> doing (Ibid.). Thus, Kabeer’s process <strong>of</strong> change toward <strong>the</strong> agency <strong>of</strong> decision-makingcould be improved by Bourdieu’s doxa, which still remains intact “as long as <strong>the</strong> subjectiveassessments <strong>of</strong> social actors are largely congruent with <strong>the</strong> objectively organized possibilitiesavailable to <strong>the</strong>m” (Kabeer, 1999: 441).As <strong>the</strong> conceptualization <strong>of</strong> women’s empowerment within GAD must incorporate <strong>the</strong> callfor collective action, feminist literature explains “collective action as a primary step for women inachieving personal power <strong>and</strong> status in <strong>the</strong> public domain,” identifying <strong>the</strong> existence <strong>of</strong> femalesolidarity groups as <strong>the</strong> most important <strong>of</strong> four cross-cultural indicators <strong>of</strong> high status (Dwyer <strong>and</strong>Bruce, 1988: 9). However, some authors like Andrea Cornwall have recently criticized such anapproach as s<strong>of</strong>tening <strong>the</strong> realities <strong>of</strong> many women who do not in fact have <strong>the</strong> luxury <strong>of</strong> being ableto make choices (McIlwaine, 2012c: 5). While maintaining this present study as an academicresource ra<strong>the</strong>r than a development practitioner’s guide, this paper still incorporates <strong>the</strong> definition<strong>of</strong> empowerment as has been done by many Moroccan women’s groups responding in collectiveaction – with “a bottom-up nature <strong>and</strong> grassroots-level focus” (Bordat, 2011: 93).<strong>Feminization</strong> <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>oryThe discussion <strong>of</strong> conceptualizing empowerment fits into <strong>the</strong> larger debates within GADdiscourse <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ‘feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty’ <strong>and</strong> its link with female-headed households, which Ichallenge in <strong>the</strong> present study. The feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory incorporates empowerment as“women’s capacity to comm<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> allocate resources [which] can be as, if not more, importantthan <strong>the</strong> actual resource base in <strong>the</strong>ir households” (Chant, 2007: 34). To draw attention ondevelopment agendas, <strong>the</strong> definition <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>ory has remained widely unchallenged, namely that“women feature disproportionately <strong>among</strong> <strong>the</strong> world’s poor, with <strong>the</strong> term ‘feminization’ relating to<strong>the</strong> way poverty changes over time as a process” (Ibid.: 18). Similar to <strong>the</strong> contested concept <strong>of</strong>7


women’s empowerment, <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory requires critical differentiation <strong>among</strong>women as a heterogeneous group in application as a gendered poverty analysis.Chant necessarily brings <strong>the</strong> assumptions <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>ory to <strong>the</strong> forefront in fear <strong>of</strong> a highpolitical cost <strong>of</strong> extreme oversimplification. I agree with Chant’s assertion that evidence used towidely support <strong>the</strong> first main assumption that women are becoming poorer than men is too narrow.The practice <strong>of</strong> prioritizing quantitative aspects such as income, which leads to <strong>the</strong> downplay <strong>of</strong>‘overwork,’ ‘time deficiency,’ ‘powerlessness,’ <strong>and</strong> ‘vulnerability’ – concepts as, if not more,“relevant to women’s perceptions <strong>of</strong> disadvantage, <strong>and</strong> to <strong>the</strong> ‘trade-<strong>of</strong>fs’ <strong>the</strong>y make or are able tonegotiate between different aspects <strong>of</strong> poverty” (Chant, 2007: 18). Qualitative measures <strong>of</strong>ten getundervalued in “grassroots subjective experiences <strong>of</strong> poverty” when compared to “narrowexternally imposed criteria” (Ibid.). The dimensions <strong>of</strong> poverty included by <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong>poverty <strong>the</strong>ory also lay outside <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>ory’s narrow definition. To be applied, it needs to scrutinizedifferent developing contexts – not only reference objective measures – for what exactly it claimsmakes some women poorer than some men (Ibid.: 22).The poverty <strong>of</strong> women as highlighted by feminists is not only multidimensional but multisectoralas well – experiences varying in different times <strong>and</strong> different spaces (Bradshaw, 2002: 12).However, gendered poverty is experienced by both men <strong>and</strong> women due to such variables as age,race, nationality, sexuality, class, household headship <strong>and</strong> composition, <strong>the</strong> marital, fertility <strong>and</strong>family status <strong>of</strong> women <strong>and</strong> men, <strong>and</strong> urban versus rural residence (Chant, 2010: 2). Theirintersections with gender <strong>and</strong> poverty produce outcomes that are <strong>the</strong>n filtered by varying conceptuallenses depending on <strong>the</strong> researcher’s orientation toward objective/quantitative versus subjective/qualitative/participatory measures <strong>and</strong>/or spatial orientation at <strong>the</strong> personal, domestic, local,national or global level (Ibid.).Chant also perceptively challenges <strong>the</strong> second popularized assumption <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>ory –feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty as a process <strong>of</strong> household inequality – because it reinforces <strong>the</strong> reliance onquantitative national data on poverty <strong>and</strong> inequality. While <strong>the</strong>se can provide baseline information,Tonkiss recognizes that <strong>the</strong> complete evidence to <strong>the</strong>n be able to determine inequalities withinhouseholds, not only in income distribution but in access to labor <strong>and</strong> consumption markets,education <strong>and</strong> welfare, does not exist in ei<strong>the</strong>r developed or developing countries (Tonkiss, 2010:158). Subjective elements <strong>of</strong> giving birth, raising children <strong>and</strong> growing older make many womenmore likely to live in poverty than men, which has a challenging implication: “<strong>Poverty</strong> ‘defeminises’when caring for a child or growing old become facts <strong>of</strong> life ra<strong>the</strong>r than riskfactors” (Ibid.).8


The link between <strong>the</strong> assumed poverty <strong>of</strong> female-headed households <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong>poverty <strong>the</strong>ory is <strong>of</strong> an importance that cannot be undermined, as 13% <strong>of</strong> households 2 in <strong>the</strong>MENA region alone are estimated to be headed by women (Chant, 2007: 20). The assertion <strong>of</strong>Davids <strong>and</strong> van Driel that <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>ory focuses on female-headed households as an expression <strong>of</strong> thatsame ‘feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty’ has created what Chant coins a “culture <strong>of</strong> single mo<strong>the</strong>rhood,”<strong>of</strong>ten designated as <strong>the</strong> ‘New <strong>Poverty</strong> Paradigm’ (Ibid.: 21). The trouble with this classification <strong>of</strong>heterogenous groups such as female-headed households is that it masks <strong>the</strong> impermanence <strong>of</strong>households.For example, in many developing contexts women marry much older men or begin <strong>the</strong>irfamilies as pregnant adolescents who may “face ab<strong>and</strong>onment, extended separation or divorce as alikely occurrence at some point in <strong>the</strong>ir lives” (Dwyer <strong>and</strong> Bruce, 1988: 18). In some communities,<strong>the</strong> recorded classification <strong>of</strong> female-headed households is as high as 50%, which would support <strong>the</strong><strong>the</strong>oretical assumption; however, such cross-sectional information lacks a record <strong>of</strong> how manywomen pass through a life-phase as a head <strong>of</strong> household, meaning as a primary or sole economicprovider for children (Ibid.). As I contend throughout this study, it is impossible for studies <strong>of</strong>heterogeneous female-headed households to simultaneously use poverty generalizations <strong>and</strong> present<strong>the</strong> reality <strong>of</strong> diversity:Differentiation occurs through routes into <strong>the</strong> status (whe<strong>the</strong>r by choice orinvoluntarily, <strong>and</strong>/or through non-marriage, separation, divorce,widowhood, migration), by rural or urban residence, by race, bycomposition, by stage in <strong>the</strong> life course (including age <strong>and</strong> relativedependency <strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>fspring), <strong>and</strong> by access to resources from beyond <strong>the</strong>household unit (from absent fa<strong>the</strong>rs, kinship networks, state assistance). Thesignificance <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se variables – which can intersect in myriad ways – is, inturn, mediated by <strong>the</strong> particular social, cultural, demographic, political <strong>and</strong>economic contexts in which female heads are situated (Chant, 2007: 108).Since female-headed households consist <strong>of</strong> a high proportion <strong>of</strong> lone mo<strong>the</strong>r units with <strong>the</strong>perceived major disadvantage <strong>of</strong> raising children alone, development literature widely assumes thisgroup to be <strong>the</strong> ‘poorest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> poor’ (Ibid.: 100). While both <strong>the</strong> short <strong>and</strong> long-term implications <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong> economic disadvantage as <strong>the</strong> sole income-earner <strong>and</strong> carer should not be minimized, some lonemo<strong>the</strong>rs negotiate above-average survival through ‘trade-<strong>of</strong>fs’ or social networks.Trade-<strong>of</strong>fs are certainly a very subjective measurement <strong>of</strong> poverty as Chant brings to bear indeveloping contexts where household heads are highly likely to be objectively poorer by income:2‘Household’ as <strong>the</strong> internationally accepted definition based on space <strong>and</strong> function: a group <strong>of</strong> people living under <strong>the</strong>same ro<strong>of</strong> <strong>and</strong> who share domestic activities <strong>and</strong> finances (McIlwaine, 2012a: 1).9


“Although women are <strong>of</strong>ten victims <strong>of</strong> unequal power relations <strong>and</strong> limited agency, emphasis onsubjectivity has brought about recognition that this can also drive women to make choices for<strong>the</strong>mselves <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir dependants, which reduces access to some types <strong>of</strong> resource, but enhances<strong>the</strong>ir prospects <strong>of</strong> o<strong>the</strong>rs” (Chant, 2007: 44). Some lone mo<strong>the</strong>rs, for example, choose to remain inthat status by not choosing to re-marry after divorce or widowhood as <strong>the</strong> increase in autonomy,control <strong>and</strong> personal security can make some lone mo<strong>the</strong>rs feel <strong>and</strong> be less vulnerable (Ibid.).Ano<strong>the</strong>r challenge to <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>ory’s assumption <strong>of</strong> household inequality <strong>among</strong> female-headedhouseholds is social networks. Many supporting <strong>the</strong>orists assume <strong>the</strong>y are smaller as a result <strong>of</strong>dead ties with ex-partners’ relatives or deliberate self-exclusion by lone mo<strong>the</strong>rs “as a means <strong>of</strong>deflecting <strong>the</strong> ‘shame’ attached to out-<strong>of</strong>-wedlock birth <strong>and</strong>/or marriage failure, not to mention, insome instances, stigmatized types <strong>of</strong> employment such as sex work” (Chant, 2007: 103). There aresocial <strong>and</strong> cultural dimensions to poverty – especially for such a heterogenous group – like <strong>the</strong>manifestation <strong>of</strong> stigma as “financial difficulties, humiliation <strong>and</strong> stress” (Ypeij, 2010: 141). I arguethat although women face social realities <strong>of</strong> stigmatization that is particularly attached to anunmarried or divorced woman, both in developed <strong>and</strong> developing contexts, researchers’ tendency togeneralize poverty levels <strong>and</strong> female-headed households is stigma in itself (Dwyer <strong>and</strong> Bruce, 1988:138). Thus, it is necessary to account for lone mo<strong>the</strong>rs who find survival resources in <strong>the</strong>ir socialnetworks. Depending on family formation, especially mo<strong>the</strong>r-daughter dynamics, <strong>the</strong>se networkscan function supportively in both financial <strong>and</strong> life crises. The assumption that female-headedhouseholds are poorer in economic terms does not even address emotional or social advantages(Davids <strong>and</strong> Driel, 2010: 107).Particularly without trade-<strong>of</strong>fs or social networks, <strong>the</strong> linkage <strong>of</strong> female-headed householdsto <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory assumes a generational dimension to <strong>the</strong> process <strong>of</strong> householdinequality in <strong>the</strong> ‘inter-generational transmission <strong>of</strong> disadvantage.’ Under this falls a list <strong>of</strong>generalized assumptions, including <strong>the</strong> sending <strong>of</strong> young children to work ra<strong>the</strong>r than school tosupport <strong>the</strong> household; however, child labor levels are not noticeably higher <strong>among</strong> female-headedhouseholds (Chant, 2007: 107). Yet, specific contextual research has shown that children in femaleheadedhouseholds have higher levels <strong>of</strong> education attainment <strong>and</strong> nutrition than <strong>the</strong>ir counterpartsin male-headed households (Ibid.: 22). Even in countries where female-headed households “do falldisproportionately into <strong>the</strong> category <strong>of</strong> poor or extremely poor, it is by no means clear that <strong>the</strong>y areresponsible for an inter-generational transmission <strong>of</strong> disadvantage” (Ibid.: 107).The o<strong>the</strong>r assumption <strong>of</strong> this concept is mo<strong>the</strong>rs consciously or unconsciously using <strong>the</strong>irdecisive relationships with <strong>the</strong>ir children in an unhealthy way to “reproduce <strong>the</strong> same cycle <strong>of</strong>10


violence, alienation <strong>and</strong> marginalization from which <strong>the</strong>y <strong>the</strong>mselves suffered” (Dagher, 2009: 572).Feminist research <strong>of</strong>ten employs a connotation <strong>of</strong> powerlessness in its link <strong>of</strong> women’s poverty withgender inequality both within <strong>and</strong> outside <strong>the</strong> household (Chant, 2007: 21). I agree with Chant <strong>and</strong>challenge that household headship could actually empower mo<strong>the</strong>rs to enhance <strong>the</strong>ir own <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong>irchildren’s well-being.(WB, 2012: 10)The widely popularized link between female-headed households <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong>poverty <strong>the</strong>ory fails to hold a consistent relationship to truly be deployed as a <strong>the</strong>sis. The identifiedproblems <strong>of</strong> generalized assumptions relying on objective evidence are supported by <strong>the</strong> lack <strong>of</strong>micro-level data across varying regions. More convincing research has been done that draws moreproductive attention to a framework that includes “changing ideals <strong>of</strong> masculinity <strong>and</strong> femininity<strong>and</strong> processes <strong>of</strong> subjectification for analyzing intersections between constraints, vulnerabilities <strong>and</strong>aspirations” (Moore, 2010: 35). Perhaps such popularization <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> link between <strong>the</strong>se conceptscould be supported if it accounts for <strong>the</strong> introduced variabilities <strong>of</strong> life stages, marital arrangements,education, employment, social networks, <strong>and</strong> self-confidence as allowed by social stigmatization,which I aim to demonstrate in my case study <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> rural Moroccan experience.11


III. METHODOLOGYThis chapter begins with a review <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> concepts used in <strong>the</strong> methodology <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> presentstudy. ‘Women’s empowerment’ as “<strong>the</strong> process by which those who have been denied <strong>the</strong> ability tomake strategic life choices acquire such an ability” includes Kabeer’s identified three indivisibledimensions: resource (access <strong>and</strong> future claims to material <strong>and</strong> human resources), agency (processes<strong>of</strong> decision-making <strong>and</strong> manifestations <strong>of</strong> negotiation, deception <strong>and</strong> manipulation) <strong>and</strong>achievement (well-being outcomes) (1999: 435). These outcomes <strong>of</strong> change are incorporated inRowl<strong>and</strong>s’ three dimensions: personal, close relationships <strong>and</strong> collective (1996: 86). Linked with<strong>the</strong> ‘feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty’ <strong>the</strong>ory, women’s empowerment is directly related to <strong>the</strong> capacity <strong>of</strong>women to manage resources <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir households, particularly <strong>among</strong> <strong>the</strong> heterogenous group <strong>of</strong>‘female-headed households’ (Chant, 2007: 34).As measuring empowerment has been tried <strong>and</strong> tested in every conceivable manner, Iintroduce only <strong>the</strong> accepted macro-level poverty assessments in GAD studies to explain why thisstudy employs <strong>the</strong> capability approach. Here ‘means’ o<strong>the</strong>r than earnings are brought into <strong>the</strong>equation along with ‘ends,’ unlike <strong>the</strong> poverty line approach that measures only economic ‘means’by income (Kabeer, 2003: 79). While <strong>the</strong> 1997 internationally adopted Human <strong>Poverty</strong> Index (HPI)that evolved out <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Capability <strong>Poverty</strong> Measure (CPM) identifies <strong>the</strong> proportion <strong>of</strong> people wholack essential human capabilities (i.e. health <strong>and</strong> education) ra<strong>the</strong>r than simply ‘means,’ it lacksexplicitly gender-specific components (Chant, 2007: 45; 2006: 211). Recognizing gender disparitiesin empowerment, <strong>the</strong> UNDP appropriately adjusted <strong>the</strong> HPI with <strong>the</strong> Gender-Related DevelopmentIndex (GDI) <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> Gender <strong>Empowerment</strong> Measure (GEM) to better evaluate <strong>the</strong> indicators <strong>of</strong>both male <strong>and</strong> female longevity, knowledge <strong>and</strong> decent st<strong>and</strong>ard <strong>of</strong> living (Chant, 2007: 45).However, <strong>the</strong> Moroccan context indicates a limitation in gendered data. Concerning <strong>the</strong>example <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> most objective indicator <strong>of</strong> income, “since women are disproportionatelyconcentrated in informal economic activity, this does not provide an accurate picture <strong>of</strong> malefemaleearning differentials” which include frequently unpaid farming, reproduction <strong>and</strong> caretaking(Chant, 2007: 46). Therefore, this paper’s analysis <strong>of</strong> female-headed households in rural,sou<strong>the</strong>rn Morocco, needs to go beyond GEM’s “survival-related achievements” that are more <strong>the</strong>values <strong>of</strong> those doing <strong>the</strong> ‘achievement’-measuring than those values <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> women’s communities(Kabeer, 1999: 440). In order to measure such hidden forms <strong>of</strong> gender discrimination, <strong>the</strong> SocialInstitutions Gender Index (SIGI) created more recently in 2009 by <strong>the</strong> Development Center <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>OECD attempts to measure gender inequalities across 12 inequality outcomes based on socialinstitutions: “[It] argues that in many countries, social norms are <strong>the</strong> decisive factors restraining12


progress in women’s empowerment….as long-lasting codes <strong>of</strong> conduct, norms, traditions <strong>and</strong>informal family laws do not change much over time” (Drechsler <strong>and</strong> Jütting, 2010: 78). Therelevant family code subcategory supports SIGI analysis to show that prevailing norms can be adriving force <strong>of</strong> gender inequality, but better measures are needed to effectively address barriers towomen’s empowerment (Ibid.: 81).With this in mind, my case study prescribes tools <strong>of</strong> a Participatory <strong>Poverty</strong> Assessment(PPA) – <strong>of</strong>ten described as a ‘social inclusion approach’ – to “explore <strong>the</strong> causes <strong>and</strong> outcomes <strong>of</strong>poverty in more context-specific ways, taking into account subjective views on poverty” at ahousehold level (Chant, 2007: 61; WB, 2000). As Chant has outlined in her GAD researchworldwide, dedicated efforts are required to engage in <strong>the</strong> popularized language <strong>of</strong> women’sempowerment <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty. My contextual analysis <strong>of</strong> Morocco <strong>and</strong> case study<strong>of</strong> female-headed households in Taroudannt attempts to “triangulate quantitative data on capabilitieswith <strong>the</strong> findings <strong>of</strong> PPAs <strong>and</strong> with qualitative gender analyses which focus on gendered relations<strong>and</strong> processes as well as outcomes” (Ibid.: 66). I employ <strong>the</strong> Participatory Learning <strong>and</strong> Action(PLA) approach to work against extractive research <strong>and</strong> practice by incorporating diagramming,interviews <strong>and</strong> observations (McIlwaine <strong>and</strong> Ferreri, 2011: 4). Conducting participatory researchrequires an anthropological underst<strong>and</strong>ing that <strong>the</strong> researcher is “historically situated” throughquestions <strong>and</strong> manner <strong>of</strong> underst<strong>and</strong>ing as well as that <strong>the</strong> information received is an interpretation“equally mediated by history <strong>and</strong> culture” (Rabinow, 1977: 119). To underst<strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> locally acceptedvalues <strong>of</strong> ‘being <strong>and</strong> doing,’ my position with <strong>the</strong> UK-based charity Moroccan Children’s Trust(MCT) facilitated my exploration. I have volunteered with this non-pr<strong>of</strong>it since <strong>the</strong> launch <strong>of</strong>MCT’s Street Children Project (SCP) in Taroudannt in October 2010 <strong>and</strong> continue to work part-timeas <strong>the</strong> UK SCP Coordinator.Engagement with Core Characteristics <strong>of</strong> Participatory Research 3policy focusbottom-up perspectiveresearch by local peoplelocal knowledgequalitativeperceptionsfocus groupsanalysis includes Moroccan state policyconducted through a grassroots organizationlocal social worker engaged with local womenused own first-h<strong>and</strong> experience & local contactsinterviews focused on ga<strong>the</strong>ring qualitative datarecognized <strong>and</strong> addressed perceptions/assumptionsincorporated focus groups on specific areas3Ideas from McIlwaine <strong>and</strong> Ferreri (2011: 2)13


Phase IOf <strong>the</strong> four phases <strong>of</strong> my primary research to complement my secondary research, <strong>the</strong> firstbegan in February 2012 to plan how best to use a participatory approach in a holistic manner toreveal gendered subjectivities. As a project str<strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> SCP, <strong>the</strong> women’s group <strong>of</strong> mo<strong>the</strong>rs <strong>of</strong>participating families approached <strong>the</strong> end <strong>of</strong> its pilot begun in September 2011 as a monthlyinformational meeting group. I ga<strong>the</strong>red perspectives <strong>and</strong> ideas on its progress from <strong>the</strong> group’sfounder <strong>and</strong> former facilitator, <strong>the</strong> former organizer, <strong>the</strong> current facilitator, <strong>and</strong> current researchassistant. I worked in partnership with <strong>the</strong> London-based Women’s Project Coordinator 4 to organizea baseline quantitative survey <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ten remaining group members in March, focusing ondemographic information, parenting attitudes <strong>and</strong> health-seeking behavior. The founder <strong>and</strong> formerorganizer <strong>the</strong>n conducted structured individual interviews, <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> founder also ga<strong>the</strong>redinformation from those women who had left <strong>the</strong> group to provide a minimum demographicbaseline.Phase IIThe second phase involved a two-week working visit in Taroudannt in April-May tocollaborate with Moroccan team members <strong>and</strong> begin implementing <strong>the</strong> agreed feasible dataga<strong>the</strong>ringprocess. We met formally <strong>and</strong> informally each day to underst<strong>and</strong> what we currently knewfrom <strong>the</strong> women’s group members, <strong>the</strong> observed changes since September <strong>and</strong> what we hoped togain from <strong>the</strong> research. This collaborative process revealed that <strong>the</strong> social work team was highlysusceptible to making assumptions about <strong>the</strong> women’s behavior due to <strong>the</strong>ir incredibly closerelationships with <strong>the</strong> women <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir families. We agreed to carry out biographical in-depthinterviews to create a life narrative <strong>of</strong> each woman to better underst<strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> manifestations <strong>of</strong>Rowl<strong>and</strong>s’ dimensions <strong>of</strong> ‘personal’ <strong>and</strong> ‘close relationships’ through <strong>the</strong> women’s roles as heads <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong>ir households, access to education, views <strong>of</strong> employment, social networks, self-confidence, <strong>and</strong>ability to access public services. We also agreed that <strong>the</strong> Moroccan team would conduct <strong>the</strong>interviews as <strong>the</strong> women speak Moroccan Arabic <strong>and</strong> we did not want to compromise relationships.We also planned <strong>the</strong> facilitation <strong>of</strong> weekly group meetings in a participatory approachmodelled after <strong>the</strong> Gender Action Learning System (GALS): “The methodology is based on <strong>and</strong>continually reinforces underlying principles <strong>of</strong> equity, inclusion <strong>and</strong> gender justice <strong>and</strong> women’shuman rights as stated in international agreements like <strong>the</strong> Convention for Elimination <strong>of</strong>Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)” (Mayoux, 2010: 84). As we wanted to integrate a moreempowering methodology to underst<strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> manifestation <strong>of</strong> Rowl<strong>and</strong>s’ ‘collective’ dimension, we4Ph.D. in Anthropology14


planned a focus group as a “tool [that] can be used independently by people who cannot read <strong>and</strong>write as well as organizational staff <strong>and</strong> academic researchers to analyse issues <strong>and</strong> strategisechange….to rapidly obtain reliable quantitative information <strong>and</strong> very rich qualitative information ina more empowering manner for participants” (Ibid.).Phase IIIDuring my visit, I initiated <strong>the</strong> third stage <strong>of</strong> employing research tools. After <strong>the</strong> discovery<strong>of</strong> assumption-making, I was wary that indicators would “not only compress a great deal <strong>of</strong>information into a single statistic but make assumptions, <strong>of</strong>ten implicit, about what this informationmeans” (Kabeer, 1999: 452). Therefore, in pursuit <strong>of</strong> supporting evidence <strong>of</strong> any assumptions, Icreated a questionnaire to conduct structured interviews with both <strong>the</strong> former <strong>and</strong> current groupfacilitators to learn <strong>the</strong>ir views <strong>of</strong> Moudawana <strong>and</strong> its effect on women’s realities, particularly in<strong>the</strong>ir engagement with <strong>the</strong> women’s group. I also created <strong>the</strong> individual in-depth interviewquestionnaire with general open-ended questions <strong>and</strong> prompt questions, which we <strong>the</strong>n translatedinto French for common underst<strong>and</strong>ing between all team members. I joined <strong>the</strong> women in <strong>the</strong> focusgroup to create a ranking chart <strong>of</strong> positive things each woman values in her daily life whichcompliments <strong>the</strong> baseline survey <strong>and</strong> in-depth interviews. 5 I <strong>the</strong>n traveled to Casablanca to ga<strong>the</strong>rmore contextual information in a semi-structured informational interview with Aicha Ech Chenna,Moroccan women’s rights activist <strong>and</strong> founder <strong>and</strong> president <strong>of</strong> Association Solidarité Féminin. 6Phase IVThe final stage in summer 2012 involved an analysis <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> qualitative data combined with<strong>the</strong> relevant quantitative baseline situated in <strong>the</strong> legal, socio-economic <strong>and</strong> cultural context <strong>of</strong>Morocco, specifically <strong>of</strong> Taroudannt in <strong>the</strong> rural south. After a meticulous follow-up process, I used<strong>the</strong> twice-clarified French transcripts to document realities <strong>and</strong> identify trends, categories <strong>and</strong>linkages. I made interpretations on this level <strong>of</strong> analysis for <strong>the</strong> present study, which not only addsto <strong>the</strong> identified GAD conversations, but also contributes to <strong>the</strong> continuing participatory researchwithin <strong>the</strong> women’s group in Taroudannt.LimitationsEfforts <strong>of</strong> clarification were made by myself <strong>and</strong> team members to protect against faultydata <strong>of</strong> a participatory research approach by using several methods <strong>of</strong> communication. Yet, I am5Chart <strong>and</strong> methodology in Appendix B.6Complete list <strong>of</strong> interviewees in Bibliography.15


acutely aware <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> limitations <strong>of</strong> my modest empirical evidence as, in agreement with Chant, Idoubt <strong>the</strong> ability to fully employ a grassroots approach to <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory due to<strong>the</strong> difficulties <strong>of</strong> verifying results, comparing <strong>the</strong>m across places <strong>and</strong> subjecting ‘gender-blindness’<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> facilitators (2007: 64). As facilitator bias can affect who is encouraged to participate <strong>and</strong> canlead to losses in gender-relevant information, I included all <strong>the</strong> women group’s members (Kabeer,2003: 102). However, <strong>the</strong> sample originally included four more women – two divorced <strong>and</strong> twosingle mo<strong>the</strong>rs – before <strong>the</strong>y stopped participating in <strong>the</strong> group. Due to differing perspectivesbetween myself <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> social work team, we were unable to agree how best to obtain – in <strong>the</strong>context <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> overall project – <strong>the</strong> potentially insightful reasons from <strong>the</strong> women why <strong>the</strong>y stoppedparticipating.An advantage <strong>of</strong> my sample, <strong>the</strong> participants <strong>of</strong> this case study contribute a usefulrepresentation <strong>of</strong> how women’s experiences differ according to household structures <strong>of</strong> married <strong>and</strong>widowed women. As this group would have constituted a more comprehensive sample, my presentcase study should be recognized as <strong>the</strong> foundation <strong>of</strong> a qualitative study that could ei<strong>the</strong>r becontinued as a longitudinal study with this sample or be developed to include a more representativecross-section <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Taroudannt population <strong>of</strong> female-headed households. I do not seek toextrapolate my specific findings to o<strong>the</strong>r cultural contexts or even o<strong>the</strong>r regions <strong>of</strong> Morocco beyond<strong>the</strong> rural south.16


IV. SITUATING THE CASE STUDY IN THE MOROCCAN EXPERIENCEThis chapter provides analysis <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> current situation in <strong>the</strong> Kingdom <strong>of</strong> Morocco: legal,socio-economic <strong>and</strong> cultural. It allows for context-specific insight <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> implications <strong>of</strong> Moroccanattempts to change deeply entrenched inegalitarian structures within <strong>the</strong>se three realms. This will<strong>the</strong>n facilitate an examination in <strong>the</strong> following case study <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> experience <strong>of</strong> challenging stigma<strong>among</strong> female-headed households in Taroudannt.Legal situationIn order to determine <strong>the</strong> legal prospects <strong>of</strong> Islamic liberalism in a state, it is crucial toconsider <strong>the</strong> special circumstances in <strong>the</strong> process <strong>of</strong> state formation in a state-by-state approach,such as for <strong>the</strong> Moroccan monarchy released from French colonial rule in 1956 (Delacoura, 2007:197). On an international legal level, ratified treaties that are duly incorporated by <strong>the</strong> OfficialBulletin publication <strong>the</strong>n become integral to Moroccan domestic law, both public <strong>and</strong> private – <strong>the</strong>CEDAW, for example (Abiad, 2008: 103). As Islam is <strong>the</strong> <strong>of</strong>ficial religion <strong>of</strong> Morocco per Article 6in <strong>the</strong> national constitution, Morocco’s judiciary system specifically follows Islamic jurisdiction setout by Shari’a 7 law only in family matters according to <strong>the</strong> Sunni Maliki school <strong>of</strong> Islam (Hashemi,2008: 17, 82).In an oversimplification, <strong>the</strong> Maliki conception <strong>of</strong> law sources <strong>the</strong> Qur’an 8 , <strong>the</strong> hadith 9 , <strong>the</strong>ijmaa 10 , <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> qiyas 11 in a combination <strong>of</strong> both tradition <strong>and</strong> reasoned opinion to varying degreesfrom <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r three Sunni schools to establish a consensus (Nasir, 2002: 19). Every field <strong>of</strong> law –international, constitutional, administrative, criminal civil, personal, family – <strong>and</strong> human action canbe evaluated by <strong>the</strong> Shari’a as comm<strong>and</strong>ed, recommended, left legally indifferent, reprobated, ordivinely forbidden (Anderson, 1957: 488). Law has many implications for political <strong>and</strong> socialdevelopments over which Shari’a constantly compromises in modern reforms (Ibid.: 514).Evidence <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> role <strong>of</strong> Islam in <strong>the</strong> Moroccan legal system is its high normative status <strong>and</strong> topposition in <strong>the</strong> hierarchy <strong>of</strong> norms per Article 19 <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> national constitution, which accords <strong>the</strong>King <strong>the</strong> right <strong>and</strong> duty to ensure <strong>the</strong> observance <strong>of</strong> both Islam <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> Constitution as <strong>the</strong>‘Comm<strong>and</strong>er <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Faithful’ (Abiad, 2008: 50).7Shari’a is Muslim law under Islamic jurisprudence.8Qur’an is <strong>the</strong> Islamic book <strong>of</strong> faith.9Hadith is <strong>the</strong> tradition <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Islamic Prophet Mohammed.10Ijmaa is <strong>the</strong> Islamic consensus <strong>of</strong> interpretation.11Qiyas is <strong>the</strong> Islamic analogy <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> holy teachings <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Prophet Mohammed.17


Despite <strong>the</strong> very recent historical reality <strong>of</strong> Islamic jurisprudence in Morocco, <strong>the</strong> classical<strong>the</strong>ory <strong>of</strong> Shari’a underlines <strong>the</strong> historical thinking <strong>of</strong> modern Moroccans <strong>and</strong> greatly influenced <strong>the</strong>region’s postcolonial establishment <strong>and</strong> development <strong>of</strong> political, economic <strong>and</strong> socialinfrastructures (Tshibangu, 1993: 520). As Moroccan Shari’a developed in a late <strong>and</strong> isolated stagerelative to <strong>the</strong> rest <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Islamic world, it recognized “that <strong>the</strong> actual conditions did not allow <strong>the</strong>strict <strong>the</strong>ory to be translated into practice, that it was better to try <strong>and</strong> control <strong>the</strong> practice as muchas possible than to ab<strong>and</strong>on it completely….to maintain a kind <strong>of</strong> protective zone around <strong>the</strong><strong>the</strong>ory” (Schacht, 1960: 526). The fundamental implication <strong>of</strong> this has been a jurisprudence thatfocuses on method more than positive solutions. When reformist ‘Allal al-Fasl asserted in 1949during French colonial rule that Moroccan legislation required a basis in both Islamic <strong>and</strong> Frenchlaw principles, he urged <strong>the</strong> King <strong>and</strong> religious scholars to agree on an Islamic Code <strong>of</strong> Morocco:To take it as <strong>the</strong> essential basis <strong>of</strong> our future legislation means helping tosafeguard it, <strong>and</strong> means giving to our country a code which is adapted to oursecular interests without contradicting our religion nor <strong>the</strong> needs, taken in<strong>the</strong>ir widest sense, <strong>of</strong> modern progressive spirit in <strong>the</strong> most highly civilizedcountries (Ibid.: 542). 12The commission assigned <strong>the</strong> responsibility to combine <strong>the</strong> duality <strong>of</strong> Islamic <strong>and</strong> French lawprinciples <strong>the</strong>n issued Moudawana by a Royal Decree to an independent Morocco in 1957 as “anevaluation <strong>of</strong> modern social life <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> modern legal thought from an Islamic angle” (Ibid.: 544-5).The inclusion <strong>of</strong> a Shari’a family code into Morocco’s secular legal system explains certainvariations in application <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> prescribed law. Since Moudawana was established in 1957, dem<strong>and</strong>sfor reform have twice grown loud from a women’s empowerment movement that began in <strong>the</strong> early1980s (Abiad, 2008: 121). The Union de l’Action Féminine <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> National CoordinationCommittee for Changes to <strong>the</strong> Moudawana <strong>and</strong> for <strong>the</strong> Defence <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Rights <strong>of</strong> Women launched acampaign toge<strong>the</strong>r in 1992 for empowerment <strong>of</strong> married women who were denied <strong>the</strong> right todivorce <strong>and</strong> compelled to follow <strong>the</strong> decision-making under <strong>the</strong> guardianship <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir husb<strong>and</strong>s aswell as for empowerment from rules like <strong>the</strong> marital age being 18 years for men but 15 for girls(Ibid.). A commission <strong>of</strong> Islamic jurists appointed by King Hassan II heard <strong>the</strong>se dem<strong>and</strong>s <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>Moroccan women’s associations, but produced very few Moudawana reforms in 1993 that changedits actual substance due to <strong>the</strong> condition that Islamic norms could not be compromised (Ibid.).Moroccan NGO Collectif 95 Maghreb-Egalite produced “One Hundred Measures” as achallenge to <strong>the</strong> discriminatory Moudawana with arguments based upon four sources <strong>of</strong> authority:12Originally from Risalat al-Maghrib (7/11/1949); French translation in Échanges (Rabat), French Series, No. 8,25/12/1949; English translation from Schacht (1960) based on <strong>the</strong> French.18


Qur’anic principles, national constitutional law, international human rights law, <strong>and</strong> sociologicalstudies investigating interactions within Moroccan families (Collectif 95, 2005: 9). Unable to quellcontinued voices for reform, King Mohammed VI (son <strong>of</strong> Hassan II) created ano<strong>the</strong>r commission,to which he added modernists <strong>and</strong> three women alongside <strong>the</strong> Islamic jurists – <strong>the</strong> first time womenwere involved in a previously male-exclusive Qur’an interpretation process: “It is necessary to bemindful <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> tolerant aims <strong>of</strong> Islam, which advocates human dignity, equality <strong>and</strong> harmoniousrelations, <strong>and</strong> also to rely on <strong>the</strong> cohesiveness <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Malikite rite” (King Mohammed VI, Ibid.:122). Ultimately, <strong>the</strong> reforms approved by Parliament <strong>and</strong> signed by <strong>the</strong> King in January 2004significantly improved not only women’s rights – including resource <strong>and</strong> agency – but those <strong>of</strong>children as well. Its major triumphs guaranteed male <strong>and</strong> female civic equality; abolished <strong>the</strong> forcedguardianship <strong>of</strong> adult women; granted women <strong>the</strong> right to divorce; equalized women’s marital ageto 18 years; gave women <strong>the</strong> right to a share <strong>of</strong> acquired family assets in <strong>the</strong> case <strong>of</strong> marriagedissolution (Abiad, 2008: 122). These Moudawana reforms reflect today’s Moroccan society whichhas diversified its types <strong>of</strong> families <strong>and</strong> family relations (Benradi, 2004: 86). 13However, <strong>the</strong> implications <strong>of</strong> such progressive women’s rights reforms to a Shari’a-basedcode are certainly prevalent in <strong>the</strong> presentation <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> de jure versus de facto Moudawana. Theexamination <strong>of</strong> gender-based discrimination as “de jure through law texts to stereotypes, norms <strong>and</strong>codes which de facto limit <strong>the</strong> individual’s freedom <strong>and</strong> distribute resources asymmetrically,”questions whe<strong>the</strong>r leading family code reform in <strong>the</strong> Islamic world may be changing <strong>the</strong> reality <strong>of</strong>gender inequality in Morocco (Johnsson-Latham, 2010: 41). For example, <strong>the</strong> 2004 reform stilldoes not legally recognize <strong>the</strong> rights <strong>of</strong> unwed mo<strong>the</strong>rs. As Moudawana explicitly forbids sexoutside <strong>of</strong> marriage, single mo<strong>the</strong>rs cannot make claims to child support payments <strong>and</strong> must acceptnot only a lack <strong>of</strong> legal options but also <strong>the</strong>ir social situation: “While Moudawana purports toestablish gender equality in Morocco, this equality is still confined to women who have beenmarried or divorced, <strong>and</strong> leaves one stigmatized demographic at <strong>the</strong> bottom <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> social <strong>and</strong> legaltotem pole” (Eisenberg, 2011: 723).Some Moroccan citizens view Moudawana as “allowing exploitative women to gain an evenhigher footing than <strong>the</strong> law intended,” while o<strong>the</strong>rs predict that now “women’s new power willcause men to fear marriage <strong>and</strong> increase <strong>the</strong> divorce rate” (Ibid.: 721). Moroccan women seekingdivorce may not actually be empowered to use <strong>the</strong>ir new legal right again due to <strong>the</strong> social barrier<strong>of</strong> stigmatization associated with being single <strong>and</strong> not fulfilling <strong>the</strong>ir religious duty <strong>of</strong> marriage13All references to Benradi (2004) are translations to English by <strong>the</strong> reasearcher from French original.19


(Ibid.: 716). In sum, de jure Moudawana empowers women with freedom in marriage <strong>and</strong> divorcebut does not currently translate into de facto empowerment from societal pressures.A study by <strong>the</strong> Organization for Economic Cooperation <strong>and</strong> Development (OECD) in its2012 composite measurement <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Social Institutions <strong>and</strong> Gender Index (SIGI) uses nationalfamily codes as one <strong>of</strong> five categories to rank <strong>and</strong> determine <strong>the</strong> causes behind gender inequalitiesas maintained by social institutions (OECD, 2012b). Overall, <strong>the</strong> SIGI ranked Morocco 17 th out <strong>of</strong>86 countries in gender inequality with an SIGI value <strong>of</strong> 0.13 compared to a family code rank <strong>of</strong> 50 th<strong>and</strong> an SIGI family code discriminatory value <strong>of</strong> 0.32 (OECD, 2012a).SIGI 2012 measurement; 12 indicators across 5 categories (OECD, 2012b)The family code measurement is still one <strong>of</strong> high discrimination despite an evident majority <strong>of</strong> lowinequality indicators [see diagram above]: equal marital age <strong>of</strong> 18 years; requirement <strong>of</strong> wife’sconsent for a husb<strong>and</strong> to obtain a judge’s consent to a polygamous marriage; wives with equalrights – <strong>and</strong> responsibilities – as <strong>the</strong>ir husb<strong>and</strong>s on household management, child-rearing, familyplanning, legal cohabitation; <strong>and</strong> ability <strong>of</strong> Moroccan wives <strong>of</strong> foreigners to pass <strong>the</strong>ir citizenship to<strong>the</strong>ir children per a 2007 reform to <strong>the</strong> Nationality Code (OECD, 2012a). However, married womenstill face completely unequal inheritance rights as daughters can inherit only half <strong>the</strong> share that ispassed to sons (FAO, 2010). Women who have been adopted cannot claim any legal status perArticle 83 <strong>of</strong> Moudawana: “Adoption as understood customarily is void <strong>and</strong> shall produce no legaleffect. Adoption for <strong>the</strong> purpose <strong>of</strong> rewarding or bequeathing, known as according a person <strong>the</strong>status <strong>of</strong> one’s child, shall not establish a parentage, <strong>and</strong> shall be subject to <strong>the</strong> provisions <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>will” (Nasir, 2002: 153).20


Along with <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r 56 Muslim states, Morocco ratified <strong>the</strong> United Nations Convention onRights <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Child (CRC) as entered into force in 1990 as an international framework to ensurechildren’s rights to survival <strong>and</strong> development as well as women’s empowerment:The concept <strong>of</strong> indivisibility <strong>of</strong> socio-economic <strong>and</strong> civil <strong>and</strong> politicalrights, so crucial to affording opportunity to women in all phases <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> lifecycle is thus established. This in turn leads to <strong>the</strong> truly remarkableconclusion that, were (girl) children afforded equal rights from birth to <strong>the</strong>first 18 years <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir life, <strong>the</strong>ir rights as women would automatically follow(Ali, 2000: 217).Morocco entered a reservation to <strong>the</strong> CRC regarding Article 14’s guarantee <strong>of</strong> freedom <strong>of</strong> religionmainly due to its incompatibility with Moudawana, which binds any child <strong>of</strong> a Muslim to be aMuslim (Detrick, 1992: 228). 14Deeper implications <strong>of</strong> Morocco’s legal situation for women’s empowerment aredemonstrated by <strong>the</strong> state party to <strong>the</strong> 1986 Working Group that <strong>of</strong>ficially blocked a proposal <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>1984 Working Group <strong>and</strong> Informal NGO Ad Hoc Group – recognition that children born out <strong>of</strong>wedlock should enjoy equal rights with children born in wedlock (Ibid.: 148-9). Morocco objectedto this protection under Article 4 due to <strong>the</strong> inability <strong>of</strong> paternity <strong>of</strong> an ‘unlawful’ child to beestablished under Shari’a (Hashemi, 2008: 232). The CRC recommended that <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r Muslimstates with reservations use Moroccan lawmakers’ successful example <strong>of</strong> “modifying problematicreligious traditions” to find legislative means to allow <strong>the</strong> Shari’a interpretation to be waived toclose <strong>the</strong> gap between family code <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> CRC (Ibid.: 253). The larger implication <strong>of</strong> Morocco’sobjection lies in <strong>the</strong> CRC’s concern about discriminatory violations <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> rights <strong>of</strong> both females<strong>and</strong> children born out <strong>of</strong> wedlock under family codes:In those states where such a mo<strong>the</strong>r is subject to <strong>the</strong> threat <strong>of</strong> beingpenalized or <strong>the</strong> child is subject to discriminatory treatment, both child <strong>and</strong>mo<strong>the</strong>r are discriminated against twice over. They are subject topunishment, legal disability in matters <strong>of</strong> personal status <strong>and</strong>, in addition,social stigmatization (Ibid.: 237).This proposal regarding children born out <strong>of</strong> wedlock was not incorporated without <strong>the</strong> requiredconsensus; <strong>the</strong>refore, girls (<strong>and</strong> boys) <strong>and</strong> lone mo<strong>the</strong>rs still face stigma by lacking legal personalstatus (Detrick, 1992: 150). Ultimately, de jure reform – compensatory legislation, policydocuments, international conventions – are “not a sufficient condition for <strong>the</strong> realization <strong>of</strong> social14All reservations <strong>and</strong> points <strong>of</strong> debate considered <strong>and</strong> adopted by <strong>the</strong> drafting body Working Group on <strong>the</strong> Open-Ended Question <strong>of</strong> a Convention on <strong>the</strong> Rights <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Child from 1979 to 1988 are included in Detrick’s work (1992).21


change which requires a period <strong>of</strong> acclimatization to legislation, during which attitudinal shifts mayoccur” (Billson <strong>and</strong> Fluehr-Lobban, 1988: 379).Socio-economic situationIn <strong>the</strong> Moroccan socio-economic situation, female-headed households <strong>of</strong>ten face segregationfrom work in <strong>the</strong> public sphere, particularly in rural Morocco. Before 2004, Moudawana declared ita man’s duty to provide for his wife, even if she is capable <strong>of</strong> providing for herself. Thus, it isnoteworthy that between 1971 <strong>and</strong> 2002, <strong>the</strong> percentage <strong>of</strong> women in <strong>the</strong> Moroccan labor forcenearly doubled from 12.6% to 24.9% (Albert 2007: 11). Again, women legally have equal rights asmen to education <strong>and</strong> work, according to Article 13 <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> national Constitution; however, areligious stigma <strong>of</strong> women in public is practiced in <strong>the</strong> socio-economic realm <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> public sphere(Ibid.: 52, 59). Two Moroccan political scientists at Mohamed V University in Rabat link ruralwomen’s constraint <strong>of</strong> a lack <strong>of</strong> education <strong>and</strong> training to condemnation on <strong>the</strong> bottom rung <strong>of</strong>society (Kerzazi <strong>and</strong> Agoumy 2004: 11). 15 Yet, <strong>the</strong> authors contend that Moudawana reforms marka turning point in <strong>the</strong> uncertain futures <strong>of</strong> lone mo<strong>the</strong>rs as <strong>the</strong>ir legal status are now considered aspart <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> family unit <strong>and</strong> its stability, although more investment in service <strong>and</strong> industry is neededto empower rural women to diversify <strong>the</strong>ir livelihoods (Ibid.: 24, 91).There has been an increase in female market vendors over <strong>the</strong> past two decades, <strong>and</strong> most <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong>se women “are divorced, widowed, or ab<strong>and</strong>oned <strong>and</strong> are <strong>the</strong> main income-earners in <strong>the</strong>irhouseholds….Any woman that must support herself through hard work or potential public exposurebecause <strong>of</strong> an absent or inept male guardian is socially stigmatized” (Ibid.: 62). At <strong>the</strong> turn <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>millennium, 71.17% <strong>of</strong> female heads <strong>of</strong> household were widows <strong>and</strong> divorcées – 12% <strong>of</strong> totalfemale population compared to 1.6% <strong>of</strong> total male population – with <strong>the</strong> proportion <strong>of</strong> unemployedwomen who are female heads at 56.9% (CERED, 1998: 8-9). Urban women can find more workopportunities afforded by <strong>the</strong> anonymity <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> city, whereas rural women are still held to <strong>the</strong> norm<strong>of</strong> full-time farm-work, earning little to no income” (Kerzazi <strong>and</strong> Agoumy, 2004: 63). In sou<strong>the</strong>rnMorocco, rural women are expected to perform unpaid work outside <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> home along withhousework. Women who are at least 15 years-old are considered inactive if <strong>the</strong>y do not, resulting inseasonal work that is rarely a managerial position (Ibid.: 89).If <strong>the</strong>ir daytime hours are understood properly, rural women contribute considerably to <strong>the</strong>economic development <strong>of</strong> sou<strong>the</strong>rn Morocco, as <strong>the</strong> Moroccan government publicly recognized inan announcement by Mr. Menmahi, President <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Moroccan Association for <strong>the</strong> Promotion <strong>of</strong>Rural Women, at <strong>the</strong> international forum <strong>of</strong> female solidarity in Casablanca in 2000 (Ibid.: 7).15All references to Kerzazi <strong>and</strong> Agoumy (2004) are translations to English by <strong>the</strong> researcher from French original.22


Under <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>me <strong>of</strong> rural women as a partner in economic development as well as combattingpoverty, Menmahi led <strong>the</strong> forum to address <strong>the</strong> grievances <strong>of</strong> rural women due to poverty,marginalization, exclusion, <strong>and</strong> ab<strong>and</strong>onment, invoking national responsibility to relieve this socioeconomicsituation (Ibid.). In order to establish aid resources, <strong>the</strong> Moroccan government openedpr<strong>of</strong>essional training centers that train women in “appropriate sectors such as sewing, embroidery,hair-dressing, typewriting, book-keeping, <strong>and</strong> musical education [which vary] from rural to urbanareas, since societal st<strong>and</strong>ards <strong>and</strong> ideals differ between <strong>the</strong> cities <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> countryside” (Albert,2007: 59).For example, in sou<strong>the</strong>rn Morocco, <strong>the</strong> Agency <strong>of</strong> Social Development set up a women’scooperative program to manage <strong>the</strong> argan market, contributing 4.2 million euros alongside 12million euros from <strong>the</strong> European Union (Ministère de la Communication, 2006: 132). The Agencyexecuted <strong>the</strong> 2004 project pilot in six provinces (including Taroudannt): mobilizing o<strong>the</strong>rgovernment partners as well as beneficiaries around <strong>the</strong> program; improving <strong>the</strong> technique <strong>of</strong> arganoil extraction <strong>among</strong> <strong>the</strong> different identified cooperatives; ga<strong>the</strong>ring knowledge <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> argan oilmarket; <strong>and</strong> engaging in research on <strong>the</strong> international market level (Ibid.: 133). Additionally, <strong>the</strong>Agency started similar programs – consolidating <strong>the</strong>m in 2005 – <strong>and</strong> five months after Moudawanareform, King Mohamed VI proposed <strong>the</strong> three axes <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> National Initiative <strong>of</strong> HumanDevelopment: promotion <strong>of</strong> women’s rights, protection <strong>of</strong> children, <strong>and</strong> integration <strong>of</strong> h<strong>and</strong>icappedpeople into society (Ibid.: 141).Thus, 2004 marked an increase in government initiatives toward women’s legal <strong>and</strong> socioeconomicempowerment in rural Morocco, translating into collective action as civil societyovercame social barriers. The concept <strong>of</strong> non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as actors in civilsociety is very recent in Morocco. They began to exist in <strong>the</strong> 1980s as regional associations createdby those with close ties to government <strong>of</strong>ficials, representing <strong>the</strong> ambitions <strong>of</strong> authorities ra<strong>the</strong>r thansocio-economic concerns <strong>of</strong> civil society (El-Glaoui, 1999: 159). As <strong>of</strong> 2000, <strong>the</strong>re are more than4,000 NGOs operating in Morocco <strong>and</strong> encouraging public debate on taboo topics in a majorcontribution “to a significant evolution in Morocco values” (Ibid.). However, NGOs face <strong>the</strong>ir ownsocio-economic barriers as most Moroccans are not active within <strong>the</strong> sector, which is usuallysustained by volunteers from middle <strong>and</strong> upper classes who <strong>of</strong>ten lack necessary skills <strong>of</strong> needsevaluation <strong>and</strong> project development, <strong>and</strong> Moroccans have not been used to donating to such(stigmatized) causes (Ibid.: 160).23


Cultural situationAnalyzing Moroccan Islam <strong>and</strong> its inherent social structure in <strong>the</strong> cultural context lendsmore implications <strong>of</strong> social stigma in <strong>the</strong> Moroccan experience. Fitna – or chaos – is traditionallybelieved to result from uncontrolled sexuality when women enter <strong>the</strong> public sphere, threatening <strong>the</strong>fabric <strong>of</strong> society as believers are distracted from religious duties <strong>of</strong> prayer <strong>and</strong> community welfare(Davis <strong>and</strong> Davis, 1989: 114). The implications <strong>of</strong> this is a double-st<strong>and</strong>ard <strong>of</strong> serious cultural<strong>of</strong>fense <strong>and</strong> social stimatization: men are less restricted <strong>and</strong> assumed to occasionally consort withprostitutes while women who have sex outside <strong>of</strong> marriage (perhaps being enticed) are said to haveruined <strong>the</strong>ir reputations <strong>and</strong> kherjet ‘ala mustaqbel dyalhal – “gone out against her future” (Ibid.:121). Moroccan feminist Fatima Mernissi maintains her pessimism that gender equality can beachieved in Morocco due to this protection <strong>of</strong> patriarchy. She contends that those who have beenimmersed in <strong>the</strong> “woman-beauty-seduction discourse” are going to be in an unfamiliar territoryregarding <strong>the</strong> real need for women’s empowerment: “Life is played out around <strong>the</strong> struggle forfood, for wages, for some income, however minimal. In <strong>the</strong> Morocco <strong>of</strong> women, earning one’sliving is <strong>the</strong> essential concern <strong>and</strong> purpose in life” (Mernissi, 1989: 1). Particularly in rural society,patriarchy is still protected, leaving women with a continued lack <strong>of</strong> socio-economic <strong>and</strong> culturalinfrastructure <strong>of</strong> empowerment in an inegalitarian society (Kerzazi, <strong>and</strong> Agoumy 2004: 30).As analyzed in several anthropological studies, Moroccan society underst<strong>and</strong>s socialexperience through five key concepts: God’s will, reason, propriety, obligation, compulsion(Eickelman, 1976: 124). Moroccans construe <strong>the</strong>se notions as Islamic, making <strong>the</strong>se five ideas verycompelling (Ibid.: 125). This reasoning promotes awareness <strong>of</strong> a larger kin network, making <strong>the</strong>individual’s desires second (Davis <strong>and</strong> Davis, 1989: 134). Most towns in rural Morocco arespatially structured into living quarters held toge<strong>the</strong>r by personal ties <strong>and</strong> common interests betweenhouseholds in qaraba, or “closeness,” which suggests kinship due to ties <strong>of</strong> obligation to each o<strong>the</strong>r(Eickelman, 1976: 91). Immigrants tend to settle in areas wherever <strong>the</strong>re is availableaccommodation, causing <strong>the</strong>m to lack qaraba <strong>and</strong> thus <strong>the</strong> ability “to mobilize as an effectivegroup, since <strong>the</strong>y lack <strong>the</strong> economic resources <strong>and</strong> leadership” (Ibid.: 98).Within this spatial structure <strong>of</strong> quarters, Moroccan social structure is based upon orderedrelationships <strong>of</strong> persons ra<strong>the</strong>r than groups <strong>of</strong> persons. Qaraba again carries over to each person’smanagement <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> dyadic relationships in <strong>the</strong>ir personal networks (Ibid.: 120). This carries intohetero- <strong>and</strong> homo-relationships within <strong>the</strong> public sphere: “Sexual segregation is primarily asymbolic spatial confinement <strong>of</strong> women” (Mernissi, 1985: 157). As women are considered to beprovocative <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong>fensive when in designated male spaces like public streets, <strong>the</strong>y face public24


harassment when attending school or jobs (Ibid.: 143). This <strong>the</strong>n accounts for a variety <strong>of</strong> socialpatterns, including transformations <strong>of</strong> social action in <strong>the</strong> context <strong>of</strong> modernization. Mernissi arguesthat <strong>the</strong> Shari’a-based Moudawana views men <strong>and</strong> women as antagonists <strong>and</strong> dooms <strong>the</strong> conjugalunit to conflict” (Ibid.: 163). This is a testimony that <strong>the</strong> traditional spatial structures have notchanged but reaffirmed men’s right <strong>of</strong> authority over women <strong>the</strong>y can no longer control.Bearing <strong>the</strong> Islamic grounding <strong>and</strong> qaraba idea in mind, Moroccan social experience is<strong>of</strong>ten interpreted from a common-sense perspective <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> way things are – “<strong>the</strong> inequality <strong>of</strong> menin this world is too matter-<strong>of</strong>-fact to be a matter <strong>of</strong> speculation to most Moroccans” (Mernissi, 1985:153). This demonstrates how Moroccan society functions according to <strong>the</strong> aforementioned fiveconcepts. Many social inequalities are attributed to God’s will as an explanation <strong>of</strong> both <strong>the</strong> current<strong>and</strong> future state <strong>of</strong> affairs (Ibid.: 126). The implications here are that Moroccan men are empoweredto take <strong>the</strong> world as it is <strong>and</strong> to use <strong>the</strong>ir empirical observations to act; however, only for himself, asGod’s will determines <strong>the</strong> moral <strong>and</strong> economic fate <strong>of</strong> o<strong>the</strong>rs (Ibid.: 128). The second concept <strong>of</strong>reason is assumed to be more fully developed in men than in women, simply because femaleactivities are confined to <strong>the</strong> private sphere <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> house <strong>and</strong> quarter (Ibid.: 132). It is critical to notehere that women still hold power within <strong>the</strong>ir own spheres (Ibid.).Propriety as <strong>the</strong> third concept dictates regular face-to-face relations, a quality acquired as aperson matures. For example, as a boy gains maturity, only his mo<strong>the</strong>r will <strong>the</strong>n “continuemanifestly to display affection toward him” (Mernissi, 1985: 138). These ties become so strong thatwidowed or divorced mo<strong>the</strong>rs may frequently live with <strong>the</strong>ir sons for economic <strong>and</strong> moral support,pushing <strong>the</strong> fourth concept <strong>of</strong> obligation (Ibid.). The pluralistic exchange <strong>of</strong> obligations isprescribed by Islamic law, <strong>and</strong> any serious breach in this exchange introduces <strong>the</strong> fifth concept <strong>of</strong>compulsion that is placed on one who fails to come to ano<strong>the</strong>r’s aid or faces serious social dishonor(Ibid.: 149). Should this weight not be lifted, a person is condemned by social judgement, whichincludes a man’s economic as well as moral situation (Ibid.).Those who do fall in moral <strong>and</strong> social judgement are excluded from Moroccan society. Inano<strong>the</strong>r study by anthropologist Rabinow, “even <strong>the</strong> poorest families were not reluctant to discuss<strong>and</strong> lament <strong>the</strong>ir economic situation” (1977: 116). <strong>Poverty</strong> lacks a stigma in Morocco, as it onlyindicates a lack <strong>of</strong> material goods, until it is combined with a compromising moral or socialjudgement (Ibid.). Thus, poorer women pregnant outside <strong>of</strong> wedlock are banished <strong>and</strong> chastized aslone mo<strong>the</strong>rs who are undesirable, illegitimate <strong>and</strong> socially unrecognized (Laala Hafdane, 2003:163). 16 When <strong>the</strong>y seek economic independence, this is fundamentally considered a revolt <strong>and</strong>16All references to Laala Hafdane (2003) are translations to English by <strong>the</strong> researcher from French original.25


defiance <strong>of</strong> tradition, <strong>and</strong> society encourages o<strong>the</strong>rs to let <strong>the</strong>m assume responsibilities for <strong>the</strong>irdecisions (Ibid.: 167). Lone mo<strong>the</strong>rs sometimes find survival options within <strong>the</strong>ir own families,particularly <strong>the</strong>ir mo<strong>the</strong>rs, who help with informal adoption to protect <strong>the</strong>ir social honor (Ibid.:170). Social ignorance perpetuates this cyclical barrier <strong>of</strong> stigmatization to women’s empowermentwith sexual education absent from schools <strong>and</strong> psychological impact contributing greatly towomen’s empowerment <strong>of</strong> female-headed households (Ibid.: 173).26


V. WOMEN’S GROUP IN TAROUDANNTThis case study highlights <strong>the</strong> link between female-headed households <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> challengesinherent to <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory by way <strong>of</strong> “analyzing intersections betweenconstraints, vulnerabilities <strong>and</strong> aspirations” (Moore, 2010: 35). Using Rowl<strong>and</strong>s’ dimensions <strong>of</strong>women’s empowerment, this participatory assessment research with a women’s group in Taroudanntexplores how attempts to change deeply entrenched inegalitarian structures within <strong>the</strong> legal, socioeconomic<strong>and</strong> Islamic cultural realms translate into change toward Kabeer’s three components <strong>of</strong>women’s empowerment – resource, agency <strong>and</strong> achievement. Qualitative analysis <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> stages <strong>of</strong>life, marital arrangements, education, employment, social networks, <strong>and</strong> self-confidence <strong>of</strong> femaleheadedhouseholds demonstrates <strong>the</strong> context-specificity required to apply <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong>poverty <strong>the</strong>ory in GAD.TaroudanntAs previously introduced, Taroudannt’s sou<strong>the</strong>rn <strong>and</strong> inl<strong>and</strong> location has continued to“render it ra<strong>the</strong>r impervious to European contact,” making it an ideal choice for studying traditionalMoroccan society – to which Daisy Dwyer attests in her anthropological study from 1970-78 (1978:8). Of an estimated population <strong>of</strong> 60,000, Taroudannt’s dwellers – known as Roudaniyin –predominantly maintain “indirect involvement with European paradigms, strategies, knowledge,<strong>and</strong> affairs,” limiting <strong>the</strong> agricultural economy to tapping only a few European markets <strong>and</strong> touristeconomy to attracting a trickle <strong>of</strong> tourists <strong>and</strong> entrepreneurs (Ibid.: 8). The town’s geographicsituation on <strong>the</strong> Souss Plain between <strong>the</strong> High Atlas <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> Anti-Atlas Mountains maintains itsposition as a mere stopping point for trekkers <strong>and</strong> as a regional agricultural producer (Ibid.: 9). Toplace Taroudannt in <strong>the</strong> national context, Morocco’s GDP <strong>and</strong> labor market composition show that<strong>the</strong> majority <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> rural population continues to work in agriculture – <strong>the</strong> lowest-yielding GDPsector – which <strong>the</strong> UNDP estimates includes 70% <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> population living under <strong>the</strong> nationalpoverty line, according to its 2009 report on Morocco (MCT, 2010: 18; UNDP, 2009: 12).Taroudannt’s geographical location has ensured its political <strong>and</strong> military strength in <strong>the</strong>region, which later became less prestigious as nearby Agadir grew into a more Westernized city on<strong>the</strong> Atlantic Coast (Dwyer, 1978: 10). While Agadir gave its identity to Western tourism <strong>and</strong>commerce, Taroudannt maintained its unique history as <strong>the</strong> locally coined “Gr<strong>and</strong>mo<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong>Marrakesh” <strong>and</strong> regional administrative <strong>and</strong> economic center (Ibid.; MCT, 2010: 8). Dwyerobserved that Roudaniyin generally didn’t find <strong>the</strong> Agadir pathway acceptable: “Those who aredrawn to life <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Agadir sort tend to move out <strong>of</strong> Taroudannt to <strong>the</strong> larger cities; for <strong>the</strong> most part,27


<strong>the</strong>re is faith in <strong>the</strong> city’s life-style <strong>among</strong> those who remain” (1978: 11). Through my more recentobservations, I can support her example that <strong>the</strong> sexes are still segregated in <strong>the</strong> local economy “tomaintain <strong>the</strong> purity <strong>of</strong> women <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong>reby also <strong>the</strong>ir families’ honor,” forcing women who need “tosupplement <strong>the</strong>ir families’ incomes to work at such jobs as….sewing, cooking <strong>and</strong> laundering, taskswhich are part-time <strong>and</strong> generally undertaken in <strong>the</strong> household” (Ibid.: 17). Dwyer associated thisadherence to daily life traditions to <strong>the</strong> town’s size <strong>and</strong> regional history (Ibid.: 21).Legal, socio-economic <strong>and</strong> Islamic customary segregation as previously analyzed inMorocco limits Roudaniyin women’s empowerment according to Kabeer’s dimensions <strong>of</strong> resources,agency <strong>and</strong> achievements. Traditionally, Roudaniyin women <strong>of</strong> specific street neighborhoods havebeen able to use loosely organized voluntary networks, which are dependent upon <strong>the</strong>ir mobility asfemale heads <strong>of</strong> households, to exhibit power (Dwyer, 1978: 179). Yet, Dwyer cited a socialorganizationalshift in Taroudannt <strong>of</strong> deteriorating “female support groups,” raising <strong>the</strong> question <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong> effect <strong>of</strong> this deterioration as ei<strong>the</strong>r perceived losses or gains for <strong>the</strong> women in support <strong>of</strong> a newconcept <strong>of</strong> ‘selfhood:’ “The more long-st<strong>and</strong>ing notions are key to a specifically Moroccan attitudeabout maleness <strong>and</strong> femaleness as well as to Moroccan social <strong>and</strong> economic philosophy, <strong>and</strong>pressure upon <strong>the</strong>m can affect male-female relations, this time from a more explicitly ideologicaldirection” (Ibid.: 181). This flows into <strong>the</strong> Moroccan notion <strong>of</strong> ‘personhood,’ perceived by Dwyeras embedded within Taroudannt society ra<strong>the</strong>r than <strong>the</strong> Western view <strong>of</strong> isolation over interaction:“It unfolds interactionally, so that personality or character varies ra<strong>the</strong>r flexibly from relationship torelationship. The self defines itself contextually” (Ibid.: 182).Participatory assessment research approachApplying Dwyer’s concepts <strong>of</strong> Taroudannt to Rowl<strong>and</strong>s’ conceptualization <strong>of</strong> women’sempowerment focuses on access to decision-making <strong>and</strong> change in people’s perceptions <strong>of</strong> self inthree dimensions: developing one’s sense <strong>of</strong> self (i.e. confidence); increasing one’s ability tonegotiate decision-making processes within close relationships; bringing people toge<strong>the</strong>r to give<strong>the</strong>m greater power than as individuals (Chant, 2012c: 4). The use <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se multidimensionalconcepts also elucidates Chant’s challenges to <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory. The survival <strong>of</strong>some women who experience extreme cases <strong>of</strong> responsibility <strong>and</strong> obligation in a functioninginegalitarian society demonstrates how attempts to change deeply entrenched structures – law vs.rules legitimized by religious tradition – can translate into change in <strong>the</strong> Moroccan reality <strong>of</strong>resource, agency <strong>and</strong> achievement needed for women’s empowerment.Progress toward <strong>the</strong> ability to make choices was embraced by <strong>the</strong> UK-registered charityMoroccan Children’s Trust (MCT) in its establishment <strong>of</strong> a women’s group piloted in September28


2011 <strong>of</strong> some <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> mo<strong>the</strong>rs <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> children in its Street Children Project (SCP) at Centre Afak inTaroudannt. The project’s five aims target Rowl<strong>and</strong>s’ dimensions <strong>of</strong> selfhood, relationships <strong>and</strong>collective action; incorporate <strong>the</strong> objective <strong>of</strong> Kabeer’s process <strong>of</strong> change toward <strong>the</strong> ability to makechoices; <strong>and</strong> seek outcomes <strong>of</strong> Kabeer’s resource, agency <strong>and</strong> achievement:AIM OBJECTIVE OUTCOMETo increase women’sconfidence <strong>and</strong> selfesteemTo build mutual supportnetworks <strong>among</strong> <strong>the</strong>womenTo support women toexercise <strong>the</strong>ir legalrights <strong>and</strong> access publicservicesTo improve preventativehealth care practicesincluding hygiene <strong>and</strong>nutrition <strong>and</strong> encouragew o m e n t o s e e kpr<strong>of</strong>essional medicalhelp when necessaryTo promote positiveparenting practices <strong>and</strong>reduce violentdisciplinary practicesTo provide a safe space for <strong>the</strong>women to discuss daily problems<strong>the</strong>y faceTo provide leisure activitieswhere women can have funTo raise <strong>the</strong> women’s awareness<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir rights under Moudawana<strong>and</strong> services that are available to<strong>the</strong>mTo i n c r e a s e t h e w o m e n ’sknowledge <strong>of</strong> preventative healthcare practices including hygiene<strong>and</strong> nutrition <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> recognizingwhen pr<strong>of</strong>essional medical helpis neededTo i n c r e a s e t h e w o m e n ’sawareness <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir influence on<strong>the</strong>ir children as parents <strong>and</strong>support <strong>the</strong>m to change harmfulparenting practicesIncreased level <strong>of</strong>confidence <strong>and</strong> selfesteemMutual support networksoperating <strong>among</strong> <strong>the</strong>women in <strong>the</strong> projectExercise by <strong>the</strong> women <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong>ir legal rights underMoudawana <strong>and</strong> accessto available servicesImproved health carepractices in <strong>the</strong> home <strong>and</strong>an increase in seekingpr<strong>of</strong>essional medical helpwhen necessaryIncreased positiveparenting practices <strong>and</strong>reduced violentdisciplinary practicesTo monitor women’s empowerment as a multidimensional process <strong>of</strong> change toward <strong>the</strong>ability <strong>of</strong> female heads <strong>of</strong> household to make choices, this project required baseline data. This dataalso contributes to <strong>the</strong> demonstration <strong>of</strong> how survival is negotiated over gendered burdens <strong>of</strong>poverty, per <strong>the</strong> two core assumptions <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory: women becomingpoorer than men; poverty as a process <strong>of</strong> inequality within households. The short baselineinterviews conducted with <strong>the</strong> six women who are still active group members provide relevantinformation on demographics, literacy, parenting practices, health <strong>and</strong> hygiene, <strong>and</strong> self-esteem.While all <strong>the</strong> women have children participating in <strong>the</strong> SCP – from 3-8 children – this is one<strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> only demographic commonalities. The sample represents a range <strong>of</strong> life stages, from 27 to 47years-old. One married woman <strong>and</strong> one widow are from Taroudannt whereas <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>rs are29


originally from Agadir, Ouled Berhil (village in Souss Valley), <strong>and</strong> Taliouine <strong>and</strong> Mantaga (Berbervillages in <strong>the</strong> Atlas Mountains). None <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> women are literate (four have basic math skills) <strong>and</strong>five <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> women work, ei<strong>the</strong>r full- or part-time in addition to or in substitution <strong>of</strong> a husb<strong>and</strong>. 17Marital Status <strong>of</strong> Women in <strong>the</strong> GroupMarried4Widowed2For <strong>the</strong> purpose <strong>of</strong> this in-depth study, <strong>the</strong> sixth woman is not identified as a female head <strong>of</strong>household as she relies solely on <strong>the</strong> financial support <strong>of</strong> her husb<strong>and</strong> as well as his fulfilment <strong>of</strong>child-rearing responsibilities <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir three children. Mernissi’s Islamic feminist perspective <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>Moroccan “traditional image <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Muslim woman, an image that confounds virility with economicpower <strong>and</strong> femininity with <strong>the</strong> passive status <strong>of</strong> consumer,” defines an ‘atypical’ Moroccan femalehead <strong>of</strong> household as financially active or independent (1985: 148). Thus, <strong>the</strong> sixth woman’scontribution as a married, uneducated <strong>and</strong> unemployed woman originally from Taroudannt, servesas a comparison <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> status <strong>of</strong> a ‘typical’ married female non-head <strong>of</strong> household to <strong>the</strong> fiveidentified female heads <strong>of</strong> household.Responsibilities <strong>of</strong> Female-Headed HouseholdsPrimary IncomeShared IncomeChildcare0 1 2 3 4 5Number <strong>of</strong> womenMarriedWidowed17Unless o<strong>the</strong>rwise cited, all <strong>the</strong> following data are based on <strong>the</strong> 6 women’s interviews listed in <strong>the</strong> bibliography. Tomaintain confidentiality, all <strong>the</strong> married heads <strong>of</strong> household are identified here as M1, M2 <strong>and</strong> M3; <strong>the</strong> married nonheadas M4; <strong>the</strong> widowed heads as W1 <strong>and</strong> W2. Translations to English by <strong>the</strong> researcher from French originals.30


Stage <strong>of</strong> lifeDue to <strong>the</strong> impermanence <strong>of</strong> households, <strong>the</strong>re must be differentiation between women’sstages <strong>of</strong> life in order to link female-headed households with <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory’simplication <strong>of</strong> a process. The <strong>the</strong>ory initially seems to hold true by evidence that nei<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> twowidowed women worked while <strong>the</strong>ir husb<strong>and</strong>s were alive <strong>and</strong> assumed financial responsibility <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong> household. For example, one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> women’s husb<strong>and</strong>s even worked in Tunisia to support <strong>the</strong>irfamily, but now, at 47 years-old, she <strong>of</strong>ten works on a small farm along with taking care <strong>of</strong> her fourchildren so that <strong>the</strong>y can study <strong>and</strong> live in a protective environment. While <strong>the</strong>se circumstanceshave certainly created greater constraints for <strong>the</strong>se two older women, <strong>the</strong>ir vulnerabilities are notnecessarily enhanced as both women have networks <strong>of</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r Roudaniyin – family members, friends<strong>and</strong> neighbors – who helped support <strong>the</strong>m initially <strong>and</strong> continue to lend support as needed. Thewomen’s stage <strong>of</strong> life differentiates routes into being female heads <strong>of</strong> household <strong>and</strong> thissignificantly intersects with <strong>the</strong> following aspects.Marital arrangementsAll <strong>the</strong> participants share <strong>the</strong> experience <strong>of</strong> a marriage that was arranged by <strong>the</strong>ir fa<strong>the</strong>rs,ei<strong>the</strong>r to a cousin or to someone who had come to him asking for his daughter. Thus, while none <strong>of</strong><strong>the</strong> women give evidence <strong>of</strong> empowerment from Kabeer’s <strong>the</strong>orized indicator <strong>of</strong> marital advantagefrom choosing <strong>the</strong>ir own husb<strong>and</strong>, reported sharing <strong>of</strong> roles <strong>and</strong> decision-making support Kabeer’so<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>orized indicators (Kabeer, 1999: 448). To underst<strong>and</strong> roles in household decision-making,<strong>the</strong> women were asked prompt questions: whe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>y would like more children, how <strong>the</strong>y spendtime with <strong>the</strong>ir children, how <strong>the</strong>y came to live in <strong>the</strong>ir current housing conditions, <strong>and</strong> what <strong>the</strong>ythink <strong>the</strong>y need to improve <strong>the</strong>ir lives long-term. Such qualitative questions <strong>of</strong>fered varied insight.For example, one married woman responded that her husb<strong>and</strong> lives in <strong>the</strong> same house, bu<strong>the</strong> does not have any direct contact with <strong>the</strong>ir children. She is responsible for supervising <strong>the</strong>m <strong>and</strong>he waits for her to ask him to do something with <strong>the</strong>m. If <strong>the</strong>y upset her, she takes disciplinaryaction herself. Both widows explained <strong>the</strong>ir roles with <strong>the</strong>ir children as those <strong>of</strong> friends <strong>and</strong>counsellors, listening about <strong>the</strong>ir daily activities <strong>and</strong> giving advice.The married non-head <strong>of</strong> household also used empowering words to describe living with herhusb<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> children in a place separate from her family – stating that she made <strong>the</strong> decision to renta different place to make it better for her family to have more room. When asked if she wants afourth child, she responded that while her husb<strong>and</strong> does, she does not because it’s difficult on herstate <strong>of</strong> health. However, she <strong>of</strong>ten addressed her characteristic <strong>of</strong> being too timid to do certainthings <strong>and</strong> her husb<strong>and</strong> being too aggressive in his behavior with her <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir daughter. This ties in31


Dwyer’s observation that “a strict parental division <strong>of</strong> labor in <strong>the</strong> Moroccan family most <strong>of</strong>tenoccurs when husb<strong>and</strong>-wife pairs are intact, <strong>and</strong>, indeed seems to be tied to attitudes about malefemalesociality more than to attitudes about child rearing” (1978: 111).All <strong>the</strong> women were also asked whe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>re are advantages to not having a husb<strong>and</strong>, <strong>and</strong>all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>m answered very clearly – not unsurprisingly – that <strong>the</strong>re are none at all. The same marriedwoman said that <strong>the</strong>re always must be a fa<strong>the</strong>r present, because even if he does not speak with hischildren, <strong>the</strong>y are always afraid <strong>of</strong> his reaction to <strong>the</strong>ir behavior or actions. Labelled by Chant as‘trade-<strong>of</strong>fs,’ this link between <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory <strong>and</strong> female-headed householdsdoes not hold strong across <strong>the</strong> heterogenous group as nei<strong>the</strong>r <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> widows cited a trade-<strong>of</strong>f,perhaps not even considering it as a possibility. One shared her perspective <strong>of</strong> her husb<strong>and</strong>’s deathas a realization that <strong>the</strong>y had shared all responsibilities, including <strong>the</strong>ir children’s education, <strong>and</strong>now she has taken on everything.EducationAno<strong>the</strong>r women’s empowerment indicator is <strong>the</strong> belief in daughters’ education (Kabeer,1999: 448). The most striking observation from <strong>the</strong> narrative accounts <strong>of</strong> all six women’s childhoodeducation is that while none <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>m received an education, all <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>m actively sought to provideeducational opportunities for <strong>the</strong>ir children. 18 Three <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> women testified that <strong>the</strong>ir parents did notthink to send <strong>the</strong>m to school, including one fa<strong>the</strong>r constantly telling his daughter that her life is toodifficult for her to concentrate on her studies. During her reflection <strong>of</strong> her childhood, this participantbecame upset four times as she explained her obligation to her fa<strong>the</strong>r as a young girl to workcleaning o<strong>the</strong>r women’s homes. Yet, she has encouraged all <strong>of</strong> her five children to attend school,including enrolling her daughter in pre-school at Centre Afak.When this participant lived with her parents, two bro<strong>the</strong>rs <strong>and</strong> four sisters, she may not havereceived an education, but it did not render her powerless in her own household. Thus, this exampledemonstrates how education can be a source <strong>of</strong> women’s empowerment <strong>and</strong> runs against <strong>the</strong>generalization <strong>of</strong> inter-generational transmission <strong>of</strong> disadvantage in <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty<strong>the</strong>ory. It supports my earlier assertion that assuming household headship, even financially, canactually empower mo<strong>the</strong>rs to enhance <strong>the</strong>ir own children’s well-being – ano<strong>the</strong>r intersection <strong>of</strong>constraints, vulnerabilities <strong>and</strong> aspirations.18It is worth acknowledging that since all <strong>the</strong> participants are active at Centre Afak, which provides educational supportfor <strong>the</strong>ir children, <strong>the</strong>ir priority <strong>of</strong> education for <strong>the</strong>ir children may not be representative <strong>of</strong> mo<strong>the</strong>rs in Taroudannt.32


EmploymentHalf <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> sample have had a lifetime exposure to employment, which Kabeer cites asano<strong>the</strong>r source <strong>of</strong> empowerment (1999: 448). These three women worked before marriage as younggirls cleaning o<strong>the</strong>r houses. One <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> widowed women returned to this work when her husb<strong>and</strong>died <strong>and</strong> she assumed financial headship. However, one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> married women never stoppedworking, simply switched occupations to farm-work <strong>and</strong> added child-rearing responsibilities. Thischallenges <strong>the</strong> assumption <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty as a process <strong>of</strong> women becoming poorerthan men.When prompted for <strong>the</strong>ir opinions <strong>of</strong> appropriate employment for women, all <strong>the</strong>participants expressed respect for women who clean for o<strong>the</strong>r families or for organizations. Theyexpressed hardship – again unsurprisingly – for women to work on farms or in public, especially atnight. While Dwyer cited in 1978 that Roudaniyin did not allow women to take full-time jobs unless<strong>the</strong>y had no sons, fa<strong>the</strong>rs or husb<strong>and</strong>s, my current research [see graph below] shows that nowwomen in Taroudannt find stable jobs respectable for <strong>the</strong>mselves <strong>and</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r women – financialautonomy as a source <strong>of</strong> empowerment (Dwyer, 1978: 111; Kabeer, 1999: 448). Every womancontributed stable work as <strong>the</strong> most pressing identified need to improving <strong>the</strong>ir situations due tohousehold needs being too expensive for one person to manage, without implying that employmentis solely a man’s responsibility. One married woman expressed her lack <strong>of</strong> agency to change her lifedue to nei<strong>the</strong>r her nor her husb<strong>and</strong> having a stable job. Fur<strong>the</strong>rmore, <strong>the</strong> married non-head gave <strong>the</strong>suggestion that she could get ano<strong>the</strong>r job for <strong>the</strong> mornings as currently she only works in <strong>the</strong>afternoons. By this, she meant that she volunteers her afternoons at <strong>the</strong> Taroudannt hospital alongwith one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> widowed participants – an interesting example <strong>of</strong> agency shared by both a non-head<strong>and</strong> head <strong>of</strong> household.2Means <strong>of</strong> Support <strong>of</strong> Female-Headed HouseholdsNumber <strong>of</strong> women10Married Widowed Married Non-HeadCleaning Farm work Sewing Husb<strong>and</strong> (shared) Family & friends33


Social networksSocial networks can also be a source <strong>of</strong> empowerment for female-headed households against<strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory as a process <strong>of</strong> women becoming poorer than men. As Davids<strong>and</strong> Driel assert, <strong>the</strong> assumption that female-headed households are poorer financially excludeswhe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>y are poorer emotionally or socially (2010: 107). The participants shared <strong>the</strong>irexperiences moving to Taroudannt, with <strong>the</strong> widows additionally explaining how <strong>the</strong>y adapted to<strong>the</strong>ir new status. The graph below shows how <strong>the</strong> widowed women benefit from multiple sources <strong>of</strong>support within <strong>the</strong> local community whereas <strong>the</strong> married non-head relies solely on her family.Social networks can be a means <strong>of</strong> negotiating survival as well as an agency <strong>of</strong> empowerment. Forexample, one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> widows only had an aunt in Taroudannt when she moved from a mountainvillage; however, she found a neighbor who she said considers her like a sister <strong>and</strong> helped hersurvive her husb<strong>and</strong>’s death.Family Neighbors Centre Afak Friends - “Roudaniyin”2Social Network <strong>of</strong> Female-Headed HouseholdsNumber <strong>of</strong> women1Married Widowed Married Non-HeadIn a separate focus group, all <strong>of</strong> us created toge<strong>the</strong>r a ranking chart <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> top five things wevalue in our daily lives – ‘religion’ first with 29 points to ‘children’ with 21. From her experience <strong>of</strong>working with this women’s group, <strong>the</strong> current facilitator explained that Islam serves as a means <strong>of</strong>courage for <strong>the</strong> women to get through <strong>the</strong> difficult situations in <strong>the</strong>ir lives, explaining that “<strong>the</strong>y can34


only get through hard times if <strong>the</strong>y have sons <strong>and</strong> husb<strong>and</strong>s as <strong>the</strong>re is no information on o<strong>the</strong>r ways<strong>of</strong> help” (Fouady, 2012). 19 For example, <strong>the</strong> non-head who has both a husb<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> a son, stated thatshe has nei<strong>the</strong>r friends nor neighbors in Taroudannt, despite living <strong>the</strong>re since she was a child. Nowthat she has moved her family into a separate home, she expressed not feeling less constrained, butmore so as she has lost <strong>the</strong> ability to speak with her two sisters at any time about any problems thatshe is afraid to discuss with her husb<strong>and</strong>.As one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> aims <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> women’s group is to be a social network for <strong>the</strong> participants <strong>and</strong> toprovide information about <strong>the</strong>ir rights, <strong>the</strong> founder explained that <strong>the</strong> women came to Centre Afaknot knowing about <strong>the</strong> changes to Moudawana: “I see this when we start any case not registered in<strong>the</strong> family book or don’t have identity papers; most <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>m are afraid, <strong>the</strong>y don’t know <strong>the</strong>ir rights.The government doesn’t give information when <strong>the</strong>y change a law” (Essamer, 2012). Knowledge <strong>of</strong><strong>and</strong> access to public services – tribunal, hospital, police – is available to Roudaniyin, but <strong>the</strong>question remains whe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong> women feel self-confident to use <strong>the</strong>se to change <strong>the</strong>ir situations.Self-confidenceEvidence <strong>of</strong> how <strong>the</strong> Moroccan reality <strong>of</strong> attempts to change deeply entrenched structurescan translate into change in individual resource, agency <strong>and</strong> achievement is cited by <strong>the</strong> women’sgroup facilitator who has witnessed marked change: “Primarily, <strong>the</strong>y have more self-confidence.Also <strong>the</strong> women have received a lot <strong>of</strong> information on Moudawana <strong>and</strong> religion, so <strong>the</strong>re has been achange in habits <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> women. Now that <strong>the</strong>y’ve gotten <strong>the</strong> information, <strong>the</strong>y are interested inchanging <strong>the</strong>ir behavior with <strong>the</strong> ongoing work” (Fouady, 2012).The in-depth interviews reveal most female-headed households as confident in accessingservices, except <strong>the</strong> tribunals. Yet, <strong>the</strong> non-head directly stated that she could not access governmentservices, <strong>and</strong> someone must accompany her if she goes to <strong>the</strong> hospital. Normally if she or herchildren are sick, she goes to <strong>the</strong> pharmacy or mixes drugs at home ra<strong>the</strong>r than making a visit to adoctor, even a female doctor. She enrolled her family at Centre Afak because <strong>the</strong> two social workersmoved <strong>the</strong>re from a different local center where she was enrolled. Only one <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r threemarried women also feels that she could not visit a male doctor when she is ill, restricting <strong>the</strong>m tono access <strong>of</strong> medical help if <strong>the</strong>re is no female doctor. Alternatively, <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r four women do notperceive a difference in visiting a male or female doctor.The role <strong>of</strong> an individual’s low self-confidence – Rowl<strong>and</strong>s’ personal dimension – inaccepting inferior conditions cannot be absorbed into that <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> group – Rowl<strong>and</strong>s’ collective19All quotations from Fouady (2012) transcript are translations to English by <strong>the</strong> researcher from French original.35


dimension. When asked to identify how comfortable <strong>the</strong>y feel speaking in <strong>the</strong> presence <strong>of</strong> women,<strong>the</strong> participants all responded as ‘comfortable’ or ‘very comfortable’ in front <strong>of</strong> women. However,in front <strong>of</strong> men, only one widow expressed herself as ‘comfortable’ <strong>and</strong> one married womanresponded as ‘very comfortable’ – shown in <strong>the</strong> graph below.Very comfortableLevel <strong>of</strong> Self-ConfidenceLevel <strong>of</strong> comfortComfortableNot comfortableM1 M2 M3 W1 W2 M4Individual women by marital statusSpeaking in front <strong>of</strong> menSpeaking in front <strong>of</strong> womenBesides cross-referencing confidence levels with <strong>the</strong> participants’ marital statuses, it isinteresting to add each individual’s reason for not receiving an education:Level <strong>of</strong> Self-ConfidenceLevel <strong>of</strong> comfortVery comfortableComfortableNot comfortableM1 M2 M3 W1 W2 M4Worked instead <strong>of</strong> schoolParents did not send herSchool not availableReason for not receiving an educationIndividual women by marital statusEducation Speaking in front <strong>of</strong> men Speaking in front <strong>of</strong> women36


For all those who worked in o<strong>the</strong>r people’s homes instead <strong>of</strong> attending school, <strong>the</strong> women have‘comfortable’ or high self-confidence speaking in <strong>the</strong> presence <strong>of</strong> both women <strong>and</strong> men. Despite notlearning from peers, <strong>the</strong>se women may have gained confidence from being in <strong>the</strong> working world soyoung. For <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r women who stayed at home as young girls, ei<strong>the</strong>r because <strong>the</strong>ir parents did notthink to send <strong>the</strong>m or <strong>the</strong>re was not a local school available in <strong>the</strong>ir village, <strong>the</strong>y only identify selfconfidencewhen speaking in <strong>the</strong> presence <strong>of</strong> women. 20 Both <strong>the</strong> current marital status <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong>educational background <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong>se participants may play a role in each woman’s ability to increaseher self-confidence. The impossibility <strong>of</strong> generalizing <strong>the</strong> multidimensionality <strong>of</strong> women’sempowerment <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty <strong>the</strong>ory reinforces my argument that <strong>the</strong> popularizedlink between <strong>the</strong>m <strong>and</strong> female-headed households fails to hold a consistent relationship.20The education point <strong>of</strong> M1 lies between <strong>the</strong> two categories, because she explained that her parents did not think tosend her or her siblings to a school, except her youngest bro<strong>the</strong>r when <strong>the</strong>re was <strong>the</strong>n a local school available.37


VI. CONCLUSIONThe participatory research <strong>of</strong> this case study <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> secondary contextual research provide amultidimensional analysis within a livelihood approach to gendered poverty. As demonstrated by<strong>the</strong> contextualization <strong>of</strong> women’s empowerment <strong>and</strong> <strong>the</strong> application <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> feminization <strong>of</strong> poverty<strong>the</strong>ory, <strong>the</strong> link between <strong>the</strong>se <strong>and</strong> female headed-households in a functioning inegalitarian societysuch as rural, sou<strong>the</strong>rn Morocco, does not allow for generalization. This adds to <strong>the</strong> GAD discourse<strong>of</strong> how attempts to change deeply entrenched structures – law vs. rules legitimized by religioustradition – can translate into change in individual resource, agency <strong>and</strong> achievement required forwomen’s empowerment. The emphasis should be on <strong>the</strong> dimensions <strong>of</strong> life stages, maritalarrangements, education, employment, social networks, <strong>and</strong> self-confidence <strong>of</strong> female heads <strong>of</strong>households in its multidimensional <strong>and</strong> multi-sectoral qualitative approach as a caution againstover-simplification.From its conception, this study anticipated implications for social policy within <strong>the</strong>government <strong>and</strong> action within Moroccan civil society. Making gendered poverty a priority ondevelopment agendas has included unforgivable generalizations – including acceptance <strong>of</strong>‘poverty’ <strong>and</strong> ‘gender inequality’ as <strong>the</strong> same – <strong>and</strong> it requires a methodology for challengingpolitical practice to empower women (Chant, 2010: 4; Billson <strong>and</strong> Fluehr-Lobban, 2005: 400). In<strong>the</strong> Moroccan case, several initiatives have attempted to change <strong>the</strong> social institutional frameworkslimiting women’s opportunities <strong>and</strong> effective policies need to provide incentives for men to engagein <strong>the</strong> reform process (Drechsler <strong>and</strong> Jütting, 2010: 82).President <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Moroccan NGO, L’association Solidarité Féminin, Aicha Ech Chenna cites<strong>the</strong> main problem <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> ongoing women’s rights movement in Morocco as psychological <strong>and</strong> deeprootedsocial exclusion: “We need to get Moroccan citizens involved to improve women’s lives,including men <strong>and</strong> boys. We have an open door policy here, so that anyone – men <strong>and</strong> women – cancome in <strong>and</strong> see <strong>the</strong> work that we do. This helps to decrease misinterpretation” (Ech Chenna,2012). 21 Such a long-term community-led process ideally incorporates individual reflection withgroup peer learning to build toward collective action (Mayoux, 2010: 84). To charge <strong>the</strong> Moroccangovernment <strong>and</strong> civil society with setting a goal that values <strong>the</strong> development <strong>of</strong> human potentialover pr<strong>of</strong>it, Moroccan Islamic feminist Mernissi does it well: “The capacity to invest in women’sliberation is not a function <strong>of</strong> a society’s wealth, but <strong>of</strong> its goals <strong>and</strong> objectives” (1985: 165).21All quotations from Ech Chenna (2012) are translations to English by <strong>the</strong> researcher from French original.38


It is <strong>the</strong> aim that <strong>the</strong> women’s group in Taroudannt can follow this principle to complement<strong>the</strong> participatory research approach it currently employs by giving <strong>the</strong> outcomes <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> researchback to <strong>the</strong> community (McIlwaine <strong>and</strong> Ferreri, 2011: 4). This present study could serve as afoundation <strong>of</strong> a longitudinal study or <strong>of</strong> a more representative sampling <strong>of</strong> female-headedhouseholds in rural, sou<strong>the</strong>rn Morocco, to build analysis <strong>of</strong> how attempts to change deeplyentrenched structures may translate into change toward women’s empowerment.39


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InterviewsEch Chenna, Aicha, President, Association Solidarité Féminine, Casablanca, Morocco, May 2,2012.Essamer, Badiaa, Women’s Group Founder <strong>and</strong> Social Worker, Moroccan Children’s Trust,Taroudannt, Morocco, June 7, 2012.Fouady, Iqbal, Women’s Group Facilitator <strong>and</strong> Center Administrator, Moroccan Children’s Trust,Taroudannt, Morocco, April 30, 2012.M1, Women’s Group Member, Moroccan Children’s Trust, Taroudannt, Morocco, May 17, 2012.M2, Women’s Group Member, Moroccan Children’s Trust, Taroudannt, Morocco, May 18, 2012.M3, Women’s Group Member, Moroccan Children’s Trust, Taroudannt, Morocco, May 25, 2012.M4, Women’s Group Member, Moroccan Children’s Trust, Taroudannt, Morocco, May 25, 2012.W1, Women’s Group Member, Moroccan Children’s Trust, Taroudannt, Morocco, May 18, 2012.W2, Women’s Group Member, Moroccan Children’s Trust, Taroudannt, Morocco, May 25, 2012.45


APPENDICESAppendix A – Arabic glossaryfitna! ! ! chaoshadith!! ! tradition <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Islamic Prophet Mohammed.ijmaa! ! ! Islamic consensus <strong>of</strong> interpretation based on <strong>the</strong> al-ummaMoudawana! !qaraba! ! ClosenessFamily Code <strong>of</strong> Moroccoqiyas! ! ! Islamic analogy <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> holy teachings <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> Prophet MohammedQur’an! ! Islamic book <strong>of</strong> faithRoudaniyin! !Taroudannt inhabitantsShari’a! ! Muslim law under Islamic jurisprudencetamkine! ! empowerment; also name <strong>of</strong> 2008 initiative <strong>of</strong> Morocco’s Ministry <strong>of</strong>! ! ! Social Development, Family <strong>and</strong> Solidarity46


Appendix B – Focus groupAimTo find out what <strong>the</strong> women rank as <strong>the</strong> main things <strong>of</strong> value in <strong>the</strong>ir daily lives.DescriptionIdeally, we would have asked <strong>the</strong> women to list what <strong>the</strong>y see as <strong>the</strong> top things <strong>the</strong>y value in <strong>the</strong>irdaily lives. Because <strong>the</strong> women were <strong>of</strong>ten reluctant to give answers to questions <strong>of</strong> this type atprior meetings (or gave very general answers), we hypo<strong>the</strong>sized what <strong>the</strong>se might be based on <strong>the</strong>knowledge we had about <strong>the</strong>ir lives gained through <strong>the</strong> social work carried out at Centre Afak. Theoptions we <strong>of</strong>fered were:■ Views <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> community■ Children■ Housing■ Money■ Work■ Food■ HealthAfter consulting with <strong>the</strong> women’s group facilitator, we also included:■ Religion■ Husb<strong>and</strong>■ Men■ EducationWe asked <strong>the</strong> women if <strong>the</strong>y would like to add o<strong>the</strong>r categories; however, <strong>the</strong>y did not have anyo<strong>the</strong>r suggestions.We drew a simple image representing each <strong>of</strong> <strong>the</strong> categories <strong>and</strong> lined <strong>the</strong>m up on a whiteboardwith <strong>the</strong> women’s names written at <strong>the</strong> side (due to <strong>the</strong> women’s illiteracy <strong>the</strong> facilitator would callout <strong>the</strong>ir names when it was <strong>the</strong>ir turn). The women were given 5 pieces <strong>of</strong> paper <strong>of</strong> differentcolours <strong>and</strong> sizes which <strong>the</strong>y would blue-tack to <strong>the</strong> whiteboard in order <strong>of</strong> priority.Values in Daily Life Ranking Chart(created by participants <strong>of</strong> focus group 26/04/2012)M1M2M3M4W1W2TotalscoreViews <strong>of</strong>communityReligion Children Housing Money Husb<strong>and</strong> Work Men Food Education Health1 29 21 14 3 0 7 0 0 2 13Level <strong>of</strong> priority:5 4 3 2 147

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