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"Empowerment and Equality: The Role of Women in the Moroccan Sahara and the Urgent Call for Protection of Sahrawi Women in Tindouf Camps

Empowerment and Equality: The Role of Women in the Moroccan Sahara and the Urgent Call for Protection of Sahrawi Women in Tindouf Camps

As a former deputy Minister, I am highly committed to the cause of women’s empowerment and gender equality in Africa, as well as the unity of our Continent. I can testify with pride, that women in the Moroccan Sahara are fully empowered and enjoy all the freedoms provided for by the Moroccan Constitution and international human rights law.


As all Moroccan citizens, women in the Moroccan Sahara have benefited from all the reforms launched by His Majesty King Mohammed VI in the field of gender equality, human rights and democracy. It should be noted that 25% of Members of Parliament in Morocco are women.


Women in the Moroccan Sahara participated massively in the legislative, regional, and local elections held on the 8th of September 2021. Ghalla Bahiya, who has been re-elected during these elections, participates in the work of the UN Committee of Twenty-Four as a representative of the region and its women.


Women are strongly represented in the regional councils of Laayoune and Dakhla which enables them to fully participate in the planning and implementation of the New Development Model for the Southern Provinces which is endowed with the budget of 10 billion dollars.


The economic empowerment of women in the Sahara is remarkable. Women in the Sahara lead many businesses. They have also formed an extensive network of civil society organizations focused on the promotion of their political, economic, and social rights and gender equality.


Under the Leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, women in the Moroccan Sahara are shaping the future of their region and taking the lead in preparing the implementation of the Autonomy Status of the Sahara.


On the other side, polisario and the host State are holding thousands of women hostage in the Tindouf camps, and subjecting them to countless forms of abuse.


Women have been the victims of sexual abuse and exploitation, human trafficking, and slavery, with no pathway to legal redress. Their children are regularly enrolled in the armed militias of polisario. Aid intended for their households is embezzled by polisario officials, leading to widespread malnutrition.


The polisario has been marketing the myth of a so-called ‘democracy’ in the camps. Allow me to deconstruct this myth. polisario is ruled by aging males, carefully selected by the military and intelligence services of the host State of the Tindouf camps, with the exclusion of any dissenting voice.


As an African woman, I call upon the international community to intensify its efforts to protect Sahrawi women in the Tindouf camps from the atrocities of which they are victim.


In particular, the international community must upscale its efforts to bring the host State to fully comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law, by allowing the registration and census of the population detained in the Tindouf camps.


In conclusion, I am confident that only a solution based on autonomy will enable these women to take back their futures, live in dignity and enjoy their human rights.



Advocate in Peace & Conflict Resolution, President of Women Investment Network, Vice SG of AZWIM (Women in Mining), Former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs



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