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1 in 6 households in Morocco run by women

Women can be seen carrying heavy goods on their backs across the Spanish-Moroccan border [Fernando Del Berro]

Nearly one in six households in Morocco is headed by a woman, said the High Commission for Planning (HCP) in celebration of National Women’s Day yesterday.

According to data from the Census of Population and Habitat in 2014, around 1.2 million households are currently run by women with the rate being higher in urban areas than in rural areas.

Compared with the data from the previous census conducted in 2004, the rate of female-headed households remained “almost stable”. In 1960 the proportion of female heads of household was at 11.2 per cent with the rate steadily increasingly in the 1980s and 1990s (15.3 per cent in 1982 and 15.4 per cent in 1994) and rising again in the 2000s.

More than half of the women who head their households were widowed whilst 14 per cent were divorced and 20 per cent were married.

Half of the female heads of households were over 54-years-old, compared to one third of their male counterparts, and 65 per cent of the women were mainly illiterate and poorly integrated into the labour market with a participation rate of 30 per cent.

The highest proportion of female-headed households higher than the national average was found in the Guelmim-Oued Noun region of Morocco accounting for 18.7 per cent of the 16,838 households.

Read: Morocco’s ‘cargo women’ carry goods worth millions of euros on their backs

According to the HCP, one in five female household heads live alone – compared with 4.6 per cent of male heads of household – generally have fewer dependents and live in smaller dwellings which are poorly equipped.

90.3 per cent of female-headed households have a mobile phone and 21.9 per cent have a computer compared with 95.1 per cent and 26.1 per cent of households with a male head.

Despite Morocco adopting a family code that was hailed by women’s rights groups a decade ago and three years ago passing a new constitution guaranteeing gender equality, changes have been slow.

Women make up 50 per cent of the population, 47 per cent of education enrolment and only 26 per cent of the labour force.

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