El Jadida is a port city on Morocco’s Atlantic coast and has a population of roughly 171,000. The nearby port makes El Jadida an important centre for trade in the region.
The situation regarding children’s and women’s rights in Morocco has improved over the last decade. However, despite increased government measures, thousands of underage girls continue to work as domestic servants in the country today, and around 35% of the female population continues to be illiterate.
Since 2006, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in El Jadida.
There are several reasons why children in Morocco may lose parental care. The leading causes of death among adults, of which heart disease is one, mean that hundreds of children no longer have parents to care for them. Although Morocco has a relatively low HIV/AIDS prevalence, 8 900 children lost parental care due to HIV/AIDS in 2020.
Children are also taken into care due to social and cultural factors. Single mothers often face discrimination from some parts of society. They need extra support so that mother and child can stay together.
Gender inequality remains very significant in Morocco. For example, 35% of women are illiterate compared to about 17% of men. It is estimated that the illiteracy rate for women in rural areas is up to 90%. Girls are more likely to drop out of school after primary school and only 26% of girls in rural areas attend secondary school.
Long journeys to school can be challenging for girls, as transport can be difficult or dangerous. Schools are often equipped with poor sanitation facilities. And in some households, girls also have to help with the housework.