Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Moroccan women are by far the largest number of female migrants from the ENP area to the EU (Figure 2), residing mainly in France, Italy and Spain (Figure 3). In particular, the numbers of women born in Morocco and who live in Spain has significantly increased from the year 2000, accounting today for 312,000 women, compared with only 57,000 in 1990 (see Figure 4). This tendency can be inscribed in a more general feminisation of the long history of international migration among the Moroccan population. While in the 1950s and 1960s Moroccan migration was predominantly a male experience, the economic crisis of the mid-1970s and the closing of borders brought a structural change in migratory flows and in the composition of the Moroccan “communities” abroad. Already in the year 2000, a survey by the Fondation Hassan II pour les Marocains résidant à l’étranger revealed that about 65 percent of Moroccan men abroad lived with their spouses and children, which is strikingly different from the situation in the 1970s when 90 percent of Moroccan migrants were men living alone.20 If marriage reunification is one reason for the increased feminisation of Moroccan migration to Spain, other factors relate to the changing realities of women’s life in Morocco. On the one hand, women are facing increasing levels of poverty and are often the solely responsible for supporting their children and households,21 with migration becoming one of the few available solutions. On the other, due to their higher levels of education and the improvement of their legal status, Moroccan women are less tolerant towards gender discrimination and see migration as a viable and possible exit. Moroccan women in Spain find employment primarily in the paid domestic and service sectors, in hotels or restaurants.22 Next to these is employment in the agricultural sector. Since 2006, in a scheme promoted by a mobility partnership between the Morocco and Spain, women have been able to undertake seasonal work as fruit pickers.23 Moroccan women are recruited in the areas of Fès, Mohammedia, Agadir and Dakhla; they have to be between 18 and 40 years of age, and have young children – which in theory means they will wish to return home at the end of season. The number of women joining this scheme has grown from 1,800 in 2006 to 17,000 in 2009. In the Spanish province of Huelva, where the cultivation of strawberries is concentrated, Moroccan women represent 60 percent of all pickers. Employers seem to prefer Moroccans to other foreigners because they are “docile, good workers and submissive,” in the words of the coordinator of the employment scheme.24 Moreover, this mobility scheme only partially satisfies the needs of migrants households (given the temporariness and the low pay that characterised seasonal pickers’ employment). Moroccan women who wish to find more permanent and remunerative jobs in Spain are still predominantly directed towards the domestic and service sector, where exploitation tied to and reinforced by undocumented migration is very widespread. The previous example clearly shows that bilateral arrangements do little to enhance women’s autonomous mobility between ENP countries and the EU. Rather, the promotion of this type of circular migration contributes to perpetuate a process of racialising and gendering, where migrant women can easily turn into an exploitable workforce, whilst these forces them into a transnational market of care and cheap flexible work. Although seasonal work and domestic/service work may represent new opportunities in comparison with the traditional scheme of family reunification, they still do not offer an empowering alternative for working women

20 Abdelkrim Belguendouz, “Maroc: genre et migrations entre hier et aujourd’hui”, in CARIM Notes d’analyse et de synthèse, No. 2010/67 (2010), http://hdl.handle.net/1814 /15286. 21 Khadija Elmadmad, “Femmes, migrations et droits au Maroc”, in CARIM Notes d’analyse et de synthèse, No. 2011/01 (2011), http://hdl.handle.net/1814/15586. 22 Mohamed Khachani, “Genre et migration au Maroc”, in CARIM Notes d’analyse et de synthèse, No. 2011/12 (2011), http://hdl.handle.net/1814/15616. 23 Chadia Arab, “La migración circular femenina marroquí en Huelva: impacto y cambio”, in OBETS. Revista de ciencias sociales, Vol. 5, No. 2 (2010), p. 165-174, http://hdl.handle.net/10045/16095.
24 Abdelkrim Belguendouz, “Maroc: genre et migrations entre hier et aujourd’hui”, cit.


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