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Moroccan Women’s Legislative Gains and Opportunities for Reform in Lebanon

Moroccan Women’s Legislative Gains and Opportunities for Reform in Lebanon is the latest publication from Equality Now MENA on women’s rights and legal reform in the region. The book focuses on the unique and pioneering experience of Morocco with respect to reforming its personal status law and instituting greater gender equality within it. Download the arabic version following the links below.

This is contrasted with the Lebanese model which is lagging behind, unable to reform its 15 different religious and highly discriminatory family laws (for both Christian and Muslims) or to introduce a unified family law for its 18 different religious communities.

Research has shown that egalitarian reform of family law may be the most important precondition for the economic empowerment of women. Sadly, the majority of reservations entered against CEDAW are based on religion, with the single most reserved article by Muslim countries being Article 16 which is related to gender equality in marriage and the family. Indeed, Muslim family laws in over 45 countries contain discriminatory provisions that do not recognize women’s right to equality in marriage, divorce, custody of children, and other family matters. Islam is used to justify violations of women’s constitutional rights to equality, and to justify reservations to international conventions and treaties that promote gender equality.

The Moroccan experience is a valuable example for civil society organizations that are seeking reform in similar Muslim majority countries to follow. It reflects the success and ability of the Moroccan women’s movement to reform the Moroccan, shari’a-based family law, knowing that the biggest impediment to reform in such cases is that the texts that organize family relations are “sacred”, cannot be “touched” because they are derived from Islamic shari’a and fuqh.

In Morocco, reform was made possible thanks to the political will by the highest authority in the country, the King, and the mobilization of religious leaders and experts tasked with providing a fresh reading of the sacred texts—in line with international standards of human rights.

The publication is only available in Arabic.