by Rabéa Naciri
In Morocco, the status of women is a taboo subject, and consequently any discussion of the issue elicits deep-rooted passions, particularly with regard to the countrys national identity. At present this tendency is particularly pronounced because Morocco, like other Muslim and Arab countries, has seen the development of Islamic fundamentalist movements. These intensify the national identity crisis, as well as the contradictions inherent in the progressive image of the state and political élites, by focusing attention on the status of women.
The strong emphasis on the countrys Muslim and Arab identity and its focus on ethnic, linguistic and cultural unity are some of the factors that contribute to the ambivalence of the state and political bodies with regard to womens claims. They also help to explain the varied strategies adopted by womens associations in order to achieve their goals.
Conventional political actors have used the pretext of religious and cultural sensitivity in their attempts to keep womens issues off the political agenda, and to limit womens visibility and their impact on public life. Despite its claims to eschew conventional politics, the womens movement has nonetheless established itself as a partner in political discussions on womens issues and in reformulating the terms of the debate. Indeed, the greatest success of the movement has been the politicization of womens issues.
Many women have thus seized the opportunity structure of the post-independence years to advance their interests. They have not contented themselves to operate solely within the framework of rights granted to them. Education has not only permitted them to improve their functions as wives and mothers; it has also become a means for entering other spheres and for overcoming male resistance, allowing women to challenge their inferior status in the family and in the public sphere. Indeed, from this group of educated career women have emerged the rare women leaders of formal political institutions of the state and political parties, as well as the founders and leaders of the womens movement. In other words, it is a new élite that competes with the traditional male political élite.
The tension between secular and religious law helps to explain the delay in womens enjoyment of full legal rights and participation in mainstream political institutions, in spite of the enormous changes in their socio-economic position. The Moroccan Code of Personal Status, which governs the status of women and family relations, is based on traditional Islamic law whereas all other legal provisions are secularized and modern. This code places the woman under male tutelage throughout her life celibacy, marriage, divorce, widowhood and institutionalizes the strict division of gender roles: the man is the head of the family and is responsible for maintaining the women and children; the woman has duties only towards her spouse.
Political exclusion also operates through the economic marginalization of women, despite their effective and important economic participation. The precariousness of their employment status and working conditions, mirrored by a high gender gap in wage levels, are such that employment provides a poor conduit for emancipation from family control. Law is used to institutionalize economic marginalization. A woman still requires authorization from her husband to go into business, work or obtain a passport. Finally, inheritance laws grant women only one half of what men inherit on the pretext that women do not contribute to household expenses although statistics demonstrate the contrary. The result is social devaluation of womens unpaid work in general and marginalization of womens paid employment.
The gradual but hesitant recognition of the womens movement by the state can be seen at various levels. In recent years, in official speeches and press conferences, the king has recognized that the problems expressed by various womens groups are fair and their demands relevant. A further aspect of the political recognition of women has been the consultations set up with civil society. Womens associations were invited by the king to give their opinion on the revision of the Code of Personal Status. They were also involved in the formulation of the national report for the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.
The womens movement, which was initially marginal and sometimes considered extremist, has progressed since the mid-1980s. Its discourse and claims have become points of reference for intellectuals and the political establishment. Its visibility and energy have turned it into a defining element in the structure of civil society. In short, by representing their independent interests, feminists have helped to redefine gender identities and political identities simultaneously. The movement has helped shift political boundaries by encouraging public discussion and debate on issues traditionally associated with the domestic and private sphere, such as divorce, polygamy, matrimonial tutelage, violence, and the political participation of women all subjects which were previously taboo, to be discussed among women only or among specialists in theology or Islamic law. In so doing the womens movement has helped to increase political participation and broaden the political terrain in Morocco.
Rabéa Naciri, of the Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines at the University of Rabat, coordinates country-level research in Morocco for the UNRISD project Technical Co-operation and Women's Lives.
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Since not all people know what is meant by the word "Morocco", the name Morocco or Al Maghreb witch is the Arab name term. It means "the far west " or "where the sun sets". The government of morocco is a legitimate monarchy; witch is governed by a very powerful king. The thing that gives this unique and special Moroccan identity is combination of European and Arab influence, faithfulness and respect to the king, a strong Islamic base and the mix of modernity and traditions.
The current number of population in morocco is thirteen million; half of them are under the age of 19. 99, 1 per cent of this number of our population are Arab Berbers.
Agriculture and forestry are known to be the basis industries that control Morocco's economy. Things like Barley, wheat, citrus, vegetables and domestic animals are produced for continuation and trade. In 1993, Morocco took a new step of privatization, in order to encourage international investors to invest in our country. The government allowed the transfer of 112 enterprises, 37 hotels and 75 companies to the private segment.
Morocco is the world leader in the production and exportation of phosphates, with three-quarters of the world's assets. Other important industrial activities like rock mining, construction, food processing, and the production of leather goods and textiles. An important sum of foreign exchange profit is brought by the tourism industry. Because of the rich and original cultural and historical tradition and famous hospitality of the people, tourism filed is growing quickly every year.
While speaking about Moroccan economy, we must not forget a major industry that gave the fame to our country and helps to boom the economy. It is the craft industry.
The talent displayed by the craftsmen to give a pleasant appearance to useful objects has never ceased to satisfy the Moroccan and foreigner customers. It is with the art of the craftsman we turn to give spirit and beauty to the most modest and basic materials, leather, and wood, clay, copper or wool. Discover the work of our Moroccan craftsmen who have mixed together tradition and modernity, to fit all people tastes, needs and wants.
Morocco is one of the most special and wonderful places a person could ever see and visit. It is well known and distinguished more than other countries by a special thing, which is crafting and producing traditional items. There are two categories of crafting that exist in morocco, which are rural crafts, crude, original, fiercely rebellious to any foreign influences, and craft inheritor to the Hispano-Moorish traditions, sophisticated, demanding. When it comes to the choice of raw materials, it is true, in some extent, under forms and decorations of older models.
When you first visit Morocco for the first time, you will be surprised by the unique style and art of innovation of creating and designing things. Moroccan people have formed a rich creative tradition in their countries. Traditional production or handicraft in other words does not include just clothes (Djelabas), but also, home designing and decors that follows traditional and original styles, which makes these products different from others and demanded more than others from different country as well. The Moroccan craft industry reflects the rich cultural familial country-specific and represents a major economic deposit. It takes a big part from the Moroccan custom; some examples of handicrafts are Zellij work, pottery and ceramics, jewelleries and accessories, carpets, leatherwear, and traditional clothing of course and also natural cosmetics. They Proposer une meilleure traductithey they are also presented in very wide sorts which are basket work, stone work, silver smith, handbags, embroidery, blankets and others.
Crafts, at the time of the consumer society, become a productive sector like any other sector. However we stay persuaded that the crafts existence is conditioned by the beauty and originality of its production.
The products of Moroccan handicraft are one of the characteristics of Moroccan lifestyle.
The most important thing in the traditional industries in Morocco is that it employs the majority of the country's labour force and specially the poor category of the Moroccan population. Traditional production in general is an important part in the economy of morocco because it raises the economic growth development of the country. It is the one that support and accomplish the full image of it. Traditional industry in Morocco is not related only to a country's economy, but it reflects the artistic image and the old traditions that became innovated and took a modernity way, with keeping its basis and traditions as well. The art and magic of traditional items is a vital factor that pushes tourists to visit morocco. Besides historical places and weather, the art of handicraft result a huge visits from tourists each year. In 2009 morocco, over 8.3 million tourists have visited Morocco. Handicraft is the magic and mix between innovation, tradition, talent, imagination and colours. Our country is one of the major craft producing in the whole world. It is necessary to know that handicraft supports the economy of the country. The fact of exporting products abroad, made a big and large difference in Morocco's economic situation between now and before.
A general orientation is tending in the direction of the integration of crafts to the national economy, in a dynamic and comprehensive vision. The system (government) shows that the craft, by its nature, is not intensive in capital and labor. As a result, the sector is called upon to remain for a long time, it will be important in any development effort, if it is used as a mechanism for a progressive transformation of what is called “the traditional economy”.
Craft sector is the sector where investment of capital by individual is the most fragile and weak. Responsible people intend to give to this employment policy a double dimension; social and economical dimensions.
When speaking about crafts and economy, we must definitely speak about three things which are; raw materials, equipments and labor.
Raw materials: While speaking about raw materials, it is essential to establish a policy of cooperation in this field, between important ministries (agriculture, commerce, industry and crafts). It will guarantee a higher availability of raw materials for craftsmen. It is better to recommend not allowing the export of raw material or semi-finished only after having satisfied the local needs.
Equipment: The craft is known to transform speedily in order to better integrate into the modern economy. It will be forced to change its methods and improve its equipment. It is also necessary to review the policy pursued by the Government on investment.
The advantages given by the Code of investments will be approved only to projects that will hold back in any government action in the domain of handicrafts. For a number of products produced, it must refuse or reject small businesses that don't have a future and replace them with factories and production units, high efficiency and with a respectful capital.
Work force: The problem of labor should be considered in the context of accelerated growth of production, given the potential marketing of craft national products and goods.
One of the products that change the economy of morocco positively is the production of Argan oil. As we all know, the plant that gives this oil exists only in rare some places in morocco like Agadir and Essaouira, which is one of the factors that make from this oil a very expensive and demanded product. It makes Morocco the only country that has the exclusivity of exporting such an item.
The majority of countries are asking for this oil because its benefits are unlimited. The increase in the demand for Argan makes that kind of production very useful and profitable business as long as we still have this plant. The production of Argan oil has been taking place for centuries on small chalets and women have always done an extremely labor intensive and hard manual jobs to extract this plants oil, because the process of extracting this oil was and still not easy. Nowadays, Argan oil production has largely moved from the old method to a new one, and this development is helping to create a booming industry in the dry south-west of Morocco and giving a significant and important gift to the economy and source of revenue in the whole country. Now, Argan oil is a main component of most natural and organic cosmetics and self-care product; these products are sold in markets around the world.
Handicrafts in general are known to be hard in the process of production. That is why the cost of production was high in the last years, but now, the government is trying its best to reduce the cost by providing craftsmen machines in order to polish and prepare raw materials easily. The reduction of cost will automatically lead to an increase in the national.
Up to 40 businesses have been working on raw materials in morocco and sometimes abroad such as, wood, metal, cooper, wool and linen. Traditional clothes or accessories in morocco are normally produced in cities like Marrakech and Fez; others are produced in Agadir, Tangier, Essaouira and other cities. Those countries are well known by traditional production.
A handicraft is meant when there is nothing artificial in the product, which means that all the content is natural a hundred per cent. Handicrafts are practical things that can be used at homes or as items of daily clothing. This industry has developed with the development of tourism. It is important to note that the tourist plays a key role in the survival of this sector, as revenues from sales, especially in Souks (small markets), allowing many rural and poor families to live.
This sector is the second largest employer after agriculture, employing nearly 20% of the workforce in Morocco.
Morocco now has a special appeal to Moroccan traditional products. Speaking about technology, it has played a vital role in making these products look sophisticated by using new basic machines that make production easier than before, also providing new ideas linked to the design of the item. But this technology doesn't prevent these items from keeping the original and traditional value and look of a “home made” product.
But a problem that faces and threatens this field is that the handicraft sector in Morocco is in crisis and troubles. It suffers from the lack of organization and weak institutional management. No clear legal decision has been set up to regulate the problems facing this sector, resulting in a phenomenon of poor social conditions of artisans who do not know how to benefit from their jobs. These problems increase each single year.
Furthermore, even if cooperatives with the purpose of perpetuating traditions through training of craftsmen and workers have developed, this sector has a system of training and development which is so narrow and limited. For lack of information, artisans undervalue the impact they have on natural resources with poor utilization of raw materials and assets.
This sector suffers also from the competition. Because many entrants to crisis area like fishing for instance, they earn a living by influencing some kinds of handicrafts such as wood working. The real competition comes also from the Chinese production. Lately, we notice that there is a big challenge that morocco faces from china. When china has entered to Morocco, under forms of small marking selling Chinese product, they have switched to competing the national product by producing traditional clothes with lower price. For example, they started to produce traditional slippers (Cherbils) and Djelabas using low quality raw materials, and selling them at a very low price. This commerce that Chinese people do in our countries is damaging the national production, because when people have a rational choice about a product, there will be a division in the categories, because if there are people who care about the quality, there are also others that the look is more important than the quality. The development of Chinese economy will automatically cause a recession in our economy, because while china is making profit, we are loosing.
In order to increase international publicity and marketing for handicrafts, Moroccan government has opened a new department for marketing the sector of handicrafts. This new marketing strategy targets countries like the United States, countries of east including Russia and the Gulf countries which are, Emirate, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and others.
Exports handicrafts play a vital role in the improvement of the production and decrease of unemployment. In 1996, the volume of exports of handicrafts has been about 523 million DH; the carpet category represented 51% of the exports, than followed by the traditional clothing and pottery with 10.33% and 9.81% respectively.
The reputation of Moroccan craft objects exported abroad is deep-rooted in the double function of these products. These two functions are the beauty of the product and its usefulness at the same time. These two characteristics are always necessary for foreign consumers' more than Moroccan ones.
Moroccan handicraft and traditional production becomes an export product just like other normal product that Morocco exports to foreign countries. Some of those countries are Spain, France, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.
This table illustrates the traditional products exported to other countries from 1998 to 2002.
Number of exports in DH
In the coming years, the government hopes and plans to increase the rate of exporting handicrafts and the profits from this sector, this goal can be achieved by marketing through tourists, rich people and other people who are looking for the original style. Also the government aims to make craftsmen benefits from what they are producing every single day, and also attending international exhibitions and attending various formations related to how to produce in order to make sure of what is meant by competition and differentiating the product.
As we mentioned before, the handicrafts industry accounts for twenty per cent of national labour force and more than ten per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). Besides, Argan oil, which we have spoken about its effect on the economy present the larger portion of the profits the country is making from craft industry.
It is normal that the craft domain, while being attached to the law of traditions, is taking an orientation line with current needs and can ensure not only a local clientele, but an honourable position on the international market. But all the artistic research in this area must be undertaken with maximum delicacy and taste. It is a valuable tradition where its prestige must be saved and protected.
To sup up this analytical report about handicraft of morocco, we will not add something new, but we will insist on the fact that Moroccan handicraft is the industry that has changed the image and reputation of Morocco in other countries. It is the field that renewed the old tradition that risked disappearing.
Source: Essay UK - http://www.essay.uk.com/free-essays/economics/about-morocco.php
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