With a population of over 32 million, literacy rates in Morocco stand at an average of 56%, representing over 10 million people lacking basic literacy skills. With literacy programmes frequently being carried out in urban areas, opportunities for women in poor rural areas to acquire these skills are relatively few and far between. Despite the lack of education opportunities, rural women are quite active in the agricultural sector, especially in the Argan oil trade which is unique to the country.
In 2003, the association Ibn Al Baytar (AIB) introduced a quite innovative approach to address the shortage of literacy programs in rural areas by including literacy classes with income generating activities in its programs that aim to bring together social and economic progress with the preservation of the environment.
This particular initiative targeted Women’s Cooperatives producing Argan oil. This came to benefit over 3000 women in the Argan trade, but a diagnostic study in 2006 brought to light that the need to consolidate literacy skills was being overlooked, also the fact that many of the women spoke Berber and weren´t benefiting from the Arabic literacy programs. This led to the implementation in 2008 of a new literacy programme designed to address these needs in Amazigh, a Berber language spoken by the women participating in it.
The programme is implemented in five provinces of the region Souss Massa Draa in central Morocco. Each year 240 women and girls from rural areas participate in the programme with a total of over 480 rural women benefiting from it since its inception. The programme is first literacy programme in Morocco to produce and use audio-visual material in the Amazigh language, and it aims at making the Argan trade´s women aware of the importance of environmental protection and preservation by:
Attached you find a very interesting documentary on this program by SBS Australia
This platform is part of the Axis 1 “Strengthening the capacities of equality actors” of the Priority Solidarity Fund “Women for the future in the Mediterranean” funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women’s Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.