Morocco:female condition improving says Minister Benkhaldoun
Step by step, long road ahead, says scientific research minister
(by Cristiana Missori) (ANSAmed) – Rome, November 15 – The situation of women in Morocco is improving, Delegate Minister for Higher Education Soumia Benkhaldoun said Friday.
”The condition of women in our country is improving step by step: since 2011, the number of female ministers rose from 1 to 6 on a total of 39, while the percentage of women in key positions rose from 5% to 16%”, Benkhaldoun said ahead of a meeting of the cultural commission of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Parliamentary Assembly at Italy’s Lower House.
”And that’s not bad at all”, said the engineer, university professor, and founding member of the Islamist ruling Justice and Development Party, who was appointed minister in October this year. ”Things are improving, but there is still a lot to be done.
We took several steps forward in terms of legislation in 2003, 2006 and 2011”, she told ANSAmed on the sidelines of an crafts exhibit opening at the second Morocco-Italy Intercultural Day, which is ongoing through November 16. ”In Parliament, there are 67 women out of 393 MPs. That’s approximately 17.8%, slightly under the European average of 22%.
We need more women in all key roles in society”, Benkhaldoun went on, adding that women as well as men must change their mentality. ”This is an old story, which all Mediterranean women share”.
In the case of Morocco, a more integrated family policy is needed. ”We still need to put in place policies that favor part-time work, telecommuting, and state-run kindergartens”, the minister pointed out. ”We are still far from the family policies adopted by Scandinavian countries”.
Benkhaldoun, whose ministry is also in charge of scientific research and executive training, wants to develop that sector through international cooperation: ”Moroccan budget, international expertise – such as Italy’s, for example”, she explained. ”We need to develop our energy and geophysics sectors. Also, our country is rich in medicinal herbs, which could have many applications in the health care field”.
Her government, she said, needs to increase its scientific research budget, which is currently 0.8% of national GDP .
”In developed countries, that number is 2.3%”, she pointed out. International cooperation is the key. ”We just obtained 30-million-euro extra-budget financing to field projects that will be open to foreign research labs as well”, said Benkhaldoun ahead of a meeting with Italian Undersecretary for Education and Scientific Research Marco Rossi Doria.
”I will ask him officially for Italy to take on one of the deputy presidencies of the Fez Euro-Mediterranean University”, the minister said. ”We want Italian professors and researchers on hand by the time the first academic year starts in 2014”.