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The Soulaliyate Women's Land-Use Rights Movement, Morocco

The Soulaliyate Women of Morocco are claiming their rightful compensation from the sale or rent of collective land to private entities, demanding that they should benefit from the same rights as men in the face of loss of their homes and livelihood.


The Soulaliyate women’s movement, referring to tribal women in Morocco who live on collective land, is the first grassroots nationwide mobilization for land rights in Morocco. The term became publicized in 2007 when, in the context of intense commodification and privatization of land in Morocco, tribal women began demanding equal rights and shares when their collective land is privatized or divided. Although initially minor, over time the Soulaliyate Movement became a nationwide movement that challenges the gendered nature of laws regulating land tenure in Morocco and fights against patriarchal customs regarding access to land.   Collective land in Morocco, which represented the biggest percentage of available land and natural resource reserves, started being seized by the State, under its strategy of liberalization and privatization of land, and sold to public or private real estate agencies. In effect, thousands of Soulaliyate women were displaced and denied compensation, particularly affecting women who are unmarried, widowed, or divorced. The women were forced to move to urban slums and live under extreme poverty to make ends meet, unlike the men from the villages who were compensated with either land or money.    Despite the contempt and death threats they received from the men in their villages, Soulaliyyate women were able to get recognition of their right to collective land and to influence policy change. Their partnership with civil society, particularly with the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (ADFM) made the movement cross social divides and create a coalition that is active to this day, reconfiguring power relations between men and women in Morocco.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:The Soulaliyate Women's Land-Use Rights Movement, Morocco
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

There are around 4,563 Soulaliyate communities in Morocco, spread over 55 regions. The total area of these collective lands is approximately 15 million hectares, 85% of which is pastoral land, and the remaining is agricultural land. These lands are usually rich in natural resources, and contain stone and sand quarries. In some places, urban expansion has reached collective land, making them part of urban areas, increasing the real estate value of the lands, while the legal status governing the property rights remained unchanged.

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Millions of Moroccan Women (the Soulaliyate in general are estimated to be around 10 million people)
Start of the conflict:2007
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Interior (Department of Rural Affairs)
Advisory Council for Human Rights
The Ministry of Economic Development, Family, and Solidarity
International and Finance InstitutionsUN Women
Association for Cooperation with the South (ACSUR) from Spain
The Belgian Embassy from Belgium
Global Fund for Women
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Democratic Association of Women in Morocco (ADFM):
Association of Soulaliyate Women of Qasbat Mehdia
Union de l’Action Feminine (UAF)
Women Forum for Alternatives Morocco (FMAS)
Association Marocaine des Droits des Femmes (AMDF)
Women's Learning Partnership (WLP)
Ligue Democratique des Droits de la Femme (LDDF)
Joss our
Alternatives Forum in Morocco
Moroccan Association for Human Rights
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Land demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Proposal and development of alternatives:The Soulaliyate Women of Morocco are claiming their rightful compensation from the sale or rent of collective land to private entities, demanding that they should benefit from the same rights as men in the face of loss of their homes and livelihood.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:It was a big step in Morocco for the Ministry of Interior to recognise women on equal footing with men, and recognise their right to own and inherit land, and benefit financially from collectively owned land. Now the question is the implementation of the new regulations. Plus, with the national and international attention they received, and the democratic process they engaged in, some have retrospectively considered them the forerunners of the February 20 Movement.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Official website of collective land where the texts of the Circulars by the Ministry of Interior are available
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Berriane, Y. (2016). Bridging social divides: leadership and the making of an alliance for women’s land-use right in Morroco. Review of African Political Economy, 43, 350-364. DOI: 10.1080/03056244.2016.1214118

In Morocco, encouraged by success, Soulalyates women make strides in land rights
[click to view]

Interview with Ms. Khadija Ouldemmou, Project Leader, Democratic Association of Moroccan Women (ADFM), and advocate for Soulalyates women
[click to view]

Moroccan women build land rights movement
[click to view]

Khmissa Awards Celebrate Soulaliyates Women
[click to view]

Soulaliyate Movement empowers rural women in Morocco
[click to view]

Soulaliyate women shocked by the egregious violation of law in Rhaouna – Sidi Yahya Lgherb
[click to view]

Women and the Right to Land in Morocco: The Sulaliyyates Movement
[click to view]

Time for Formal Legal Status: An Update on Women’s Rights to Collective Lands in Morocco
[click to view]

The Right of Soulalyates Women to Have Their Share of Land
[click to view]

Global Fund for Women writes about Rkia Bellot
[click to view]

Women in Morocco are losing ground to tradition, prejudice and male greed
[click to view]

Happy News for Women’s Rights in Morocco: Kesbat Mehdia Women Become First-time Landowners!
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video about Soulaliyate Women
[click to view]

Moroccan Women on Collective Land, documentary produced by ADFM

Dr. Yasmine Berriane on the Soulaliyate Movement
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Catherine Moughalian, Asfari Institute, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2542
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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