North Africa: Women Secure More Rights
Monday, September 15, 2008 12:47 PM

An article in the July 2008 issue of Africa Renewal reports on the progressive development of women’s rights in certain North African countries.  Countries such as Tunisia and Morocco were cited as places where recent reforms have helped advance the goal of gender equality.  In particular, the article notes that changes in "family codes" have helped women gain more rights in areas of employment, child custody, and divorce proceedings.  Family codes are defined in the article as “sets of laws guiding the role and status of women in marriage, as well as their rights in divorce and custody matters”. In previous years these codes have been extremely restrictive toward women and have reinforced the male-dominated society that exists in many North African countries.  Today, increased reproductive choice in Tunisia and more liberal divorce laws in Egypt provide hope for further advancement of women’s rights.

The article credits much of the positive developments to the emergence of women’s advocacy groups in the region.  These groups are locally-based and seek to increase the role of women’s voices in these countries. Although progress is occurring, especially in the legal realm, societal norms in these countries still favor men. Divorce is stigmatized and women are often left economically bereft.  Women’s advocacy groups mentioned in the article note that the political sphere is male-dominated and domestic violence is not categorized as a crime.  Clearly there have been positive developments but there is still much room for improvement. 

To read full article, click here.

Compiled from: Mary Kimani, “North Africa: Women Secure More Rights”, Africa Renewal, Vol. 22(2), July, 2008.