GEOM Morocco 2016 Preliminary Statement

Preliminary Statement

Gender Election Observation Mission (GEOM) Morocco 2016

Press Statement

Presented by Head of Mission Ms. Sabra Bano

Rabat, 9th of October 2016

The Gender Election Observation Mission (GEOM), organised by Gender Concerns International,congratulates the women and men of Morocco, the National Human Rights Council, and the Ministry of Interior on the success of conducting the second Parliamentary elections following the democratic reforms in 2011. The elections took place across the country on Friday the 7th of October and mark consistency and advancement on Morocco’s democratic transformation. The women and men that participated alongside each, as voters, candidates and administrators, demonstrate that there is a will for democratic participation and advancement in Morocco. Good practices of political parties nominating young female members as candidates are encouraging.

On the invitation of the National Human Rights Council, Gender Concerns International was pleased to deploy a team of international experts and national staff. It was a short-term mission specifically observing Election Day activities.

Based on the GEOM observations in Morocco 2011 and 2015, the GEOM Morocco 2016 focused on the participation of women outside urban centres, especially the outskirts and surrounding areas of the capital Rabat and Morocco’s largest city Casablanca. This strategic focus is set based on previous observations, indicating that there is more attention needed to the vulnerable situation of women in areas outside urban centres. TheGEOM Morocco 2016 observed more than 100 pollingstationsin: Ain Harouda, Kenitra, Sidi Yahya El Gharb, Sala El Jadida, Mohammedia, Tit Melil, Salé, Rabat, and Casablanca.

The GEOM is an international election observation mission with a unique methodology that ensures that elections are observed exclusively from a gender perspective.The overall aim of the GEOM Morocco 2016 is to observe and document women’s electoral participation with an ultimate aim of supporting gender-focused electoral reform.

Women’s political and electoral participation is key to progress on the road to democracy for all citizens. This Preliminary Statement outlines the GEOM observations and findings at polling stations observed. It includes a set of recommendations for gender-inclusive electoral reform to help enable the free and fair participation of women in deciding the future of governance structures and leadership roles in the country.

Gender Election Observation Mission (GEOM) observations

1. The mission observed with great satisfaction that women were present at pollingcentres: alone, in groups, and with family members and children. There were no visible incidents of pressure to influence female voters. Good practices were observed of Moroccan men looking after their children outside polling stations to enable women to vote.

2. The participation of older voters, and especially olderwomen, was evident on Election Day. Youth, and especially young women, were not observed participating to the same degree.

3. There was a lack of facilities for voters with a disability. More male voters with a disability assisted by women were observed than female voters with a disability.

4. Staff at polling centres and polling stations was helpful to assist voters, especially older women, to find their assigned polling station, as there was some confusion. There were exceptions with polling centre staff showing indifference. One instance was observed of a staff member at a polling centre that was intimidating voters having problems locating their assigned polling stations. A majority of these voters were elderly women.

5. The number of security personnel was generally small but visible, adding to voter confidence. The mission did not observe the presence of female security personnel at polling centres.

6. There was no visible information material, such as posters, giving instructions on voting procedure at polling centre and stations. The mission observed the need for such information, as demonstrated by a staff member at a polling station giving instructions on the blackboard to an illiterate woman on how to vote.

7. Women were under-represented as staff of observed polling stations. There was a particular scarcity of women as Presidents of the polling stations. There were more female Presidents and staff at observed polling stations in Casablanca in particular.

8. Despite the absence of sex-disaggregated voter lists available at polling centres, polling station staff recorded and was able to present information on thenumber of female and male voters.

9. Women were underrepresented among political party agents at polling stations. Women’s participation was higher in the urban areas than in the other areas.

10. Most political party agents performed in accordance to their roles as observers. However, there were a few incidents where young male political party agents started to interact with voters. This caused some tensions with other party agents.

11. There was no domestic observation mission present, with the exception of one male observer in Casablanca.

12. Plenty of campaign material was found immediately outside of observed polling centres, and in some cases even inside the polling centres.

GEOM recommendations

The Mission recommends:

1. To immediately conduct an evaluation of current voter education policies and campaigns. Practical measures need to be taken to improve the electoral participation and voter turnout of men and women in future elections. The democratic engagement of citizens must be prioritised. This is a continuous process, and should be started immediately. These efforts should have a distinct gender-focus and must include specific actions to encourage the electoral participation of women and especially of young women. Government, political parties, media, women’s organisations and civil society are all responsible for this process.

2. To take practical measures to improve availability and visibility of information at polling centres explaining the voting procedure and how to vote. This information should also be tailored to the need of illiterate male and female voters.

3. To offer appropriate facilities and provisions for both male and female voters with disabilities.

The mission re-emphasises the following from the 2015 local elections:

4. To appoint a larger percentage of women as polling station presidents and polling station staff to more closely reflect the population, and to strive for gender parity.

6. To increase the percentage of women as political party agents, and provide additional training for both men and women on guidelines for their roles and responsibilities at polling stations.

7. To increase the number of female security personnel at polling centers in order to raise the confidence of female voters and higher turnout.

8. To establish a Gender-Unit within the National Election Management Body to ensure women’s equal and inclusive participation in the electoral process and during the complete electoral cycle.

More about Gender Concerns

Gender Concerns International is a Gender and Development organization based in The Hague, the Netherlands. The organisation has offices in countries in Asia and the MENA-region. Following the success of the 2011 Morocco GEOM for Parliamentary elections and the 2015 Morocco GEOM for local elections, the 2016 Morocco GEOM for Parliamentary elections were successfully conducted.

For more information, visit:

For further details and statistics on observations:

Contact Benjamin Tidå,

Gender Concerns International; 0031 704445082

Please download the PDF, for the Preliminary Statement in both English and French.