The Major Projects
Mme. Aicha Belarbi
Professor of Sociology at Mohammed V University in Rabat

Mutations in Moroccan Society

Morocco is on the move transforming itself, and a new dynamic is at play, set to preserve dignity and ensuring the nation's citizens higher levels of well-being. Reforms have been implemented, numerous renovation projects have been completed or are underway, and civil society has become an essential partner.The political, judicial, economic, social and cultural spheres have been reordered and the religious sphere has been restructured to promote an open, peaceful, and tolerant Islam that rejects any form of eventual fundamentalism manipulating religion to political ends..

The 1980s were marked by the structural Adjustment Programme's implementation, which hada negative social impact on middle-income and disadvantaged population's sectors. 1990sand, above all, the new century's fist decade saw a wide and varied range of reforms aimed at promoting Moroccan economy's liberalisation while paying special attention to social questions and human rights - changes that engendered new attitudes and behaviour, whetted aspirations and gave added drive to social demands.

Reforms bearing on political life democratisation, governance, human rights protection and sexes equality have resulted in the birth of a new, democratic, modern Morocco, of which the 2011 Constitution is the most direct and signifiant expression. Extension of basic infrastructures, economic growth, human development and transportation and communication facilitation have led to opening most remote regions and given fresh momentum to proximity's policies.

The fiht against poverty, which has been regarded as a "public problem" since 1995, helped lead to programmes' emergence such as the "BAJ" Programme de Priorités Sociales(1996) and, above all, through the INDH(National Initiative for Human Development - 2005),implementation of structuring projects and recourse to an integrated approach involving State, community and local partners. Money transfers on the part of Moroccans living abroad - a key component of family unity –became a major fiancing source for the economy and an essential means to development.

Structurally speaking, Morocco has entered a new era. With little urban development at the start of the 20th century (8%) and when it gained Independence (20%), it has now become predominantly urban (59.6% in 2014). Cities growth, megalopolises development and small centres upgrading to urban status have effaced the rural character previously attributed to it. The existence of numerous urban traditions and emergence of new urban planning forms on big cities outskirts take into account urbanisation process' complexity and efforts made to harmonise and improve it

Population's demographic structure has undergone deep-seated changes; the transition begun in the early 1960s has been consolidated over recent decades, with lower birth and mortality rates, increases in life expectancy, family-planning policies and intensive vaccination programmes all contributing to an improvement in population's state of health and the elimination of a wide range of diseases. The age pyramid has considerably changed, with a decrease in the 6/11 age group favouring primary schooling spread and a major increase in the 15/59 group putting very signifiant pressure on the job market. Population continues to age, resulting in increased welfare costs for workers and greater demand for medical and social protection.

Changes in reproductive behaviour, higher ages at fist marriage and female labour force are at the centre of changes in family life at structural and cultural levels alike. Nuclearisation of families is on the rise, with the emergence of new family confiurations(complete and incomplete nuclear, recomposed and single-parent), while authoritarian patriarchal modelis is on the decline, women's status is progressively being confimed and new attitudes towards childhood are making their appearance, supported by the regulating role of the 2004 Family Code, which seeks to harmonise family relationships.

In order to meet the many challenges posed by the 3rd millennium in terms of globalisation, increased competitiveness and communication and information extension, Morocco is focusing its policy on providing its whole population (women, the rural world and disadvantaged groups included) with quality education and training, in order to promote its educational capital and turn its cultural capital to good account. Spread of basic primary education, the fiht against illiteracy, teaching quality's and education system's governance improvement are also amongst priorities focused on by the national education policy (Education Charter and Emergency Plan).

Higher education plays a key role as its objectives include training elite to oversee nation's economic and social development. Students enjoy major State support, including spread of grants and extensive decentralisation (15 universities) that make it easier for girls and children of disadvantaged parents to go to university. Private higher education's development on it being more accessible to middle-income classes is orientated towards commercial and entrepreneurial training, adopting teaching methodologies appropriate to international managerial practices. Professional training has been redirected to cover the many activity sectors emerging in response Moroccan economy's needs.

In the new century's fist years, a number of demands relating to women's rights (sexes equality, male-female parity and fiht against violence) were addressed through adoption of the Family Code (2004), the Nationality Code (2006) and the fial acceptance of the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women – 2008 and 2011). The Constitution's provisions on human rights and women's rights, Article 19 in particular, which provides for the setup of a body to monitor parity and the fiht against discrimination, adoption of legally enforceable female quotas for political parties (one third), the organic law governing the Chamber of Representatives(national list of 60 women)and the law on regionalisation, instituting a critical mass of women (one third) in provincial and regional local councils, all constitute major advances pointing the way to sexes equality and parity in Moroccan society

However, this positive diagnosis cannot mask problems that continue to beset Moroccan society, including high illiteracy rates, amongst rural women in particular, disturbingly high mother-and-child mortality rates, striking disparities between rural and urban areas, economic regions and social categories, and territorial insecurity characteristic in a number of big city neighbourhoods. Malfunctions are apparent at a variety of levels, evidencing lack of integration and social and economic vulnerability of a considerable percentage of the population, largely due to growing flxibility of work relations, non-compliance with the Labour Code, informal sector development and a decrease in female labour force. Increasing numbers in private universities and apparent defects in the public university system explain the dual-speed operation of higher education, with some institutions focused on training the elite of tomorrow's world and others producing nothing but junior staff material and even the unemployable.

Faced with a narrowly segmented job market and academic content that fails to match market needs, today's young people have a variety of obstacles to overcome in order to fid decent jobs.Highunemployment rates, above all amongst graduates, search for a job and desire to get ahead in their chosen profession lead many highly and averagely qualifid young people to try their luck abroad. Female migration continues to increase, and seasonal migration is still the lot of poor rural women with families to feed. Meanwhile, Europe is closing its doors and opting for selective immigration, all the more so as the economic crisis it is undergoing has forced many immigrants who had long made Mediterranean Europe their home to take the road back to their native land.

It cannot be denied that considerable legislative action has been taken with a view to consolidating a society where dignity, equality, justice and freedom reign supreme, but it must be admitted that its implementation remains limited. Application of a new generation of social reforms is proving to be a long and painful process, given the age-old culture they call into question and the fear of breaking away from traditional models. Furthermore, 10 years after its adoption, polemics around the Family Code continue, and marriages with minors and teenage pregnancies are still everyday occurrences. New Constitution's mechanisms for execution are still under preparation, three years after it came into force, and bodies whose creation it provides for (youth, languages, parity, etc.) have yet to see the light of day.

Morocco has certainly taken major steps on the road to economic and social development, but it must continue to devote itself to creating an adequate education and training system, a prosperous and dynamic economy with a full range of outlets, and a middle class capable of carrying the economy forward and strengthening cohesion and prosperity of society as a whole. Unwavering political determination, a strong civil society, preservation and reinforcement of gains made, and a fim footing for the democratisation process underway should enable Morocco to make the qualitative leap that will rank it amongst the great emerging nations.