|GATE - 2/85 - Health, Water and Sanitation (GTZ GATE, 1985, 56 p.)|
by Fatima Mernissi.
The Gharb Region of Morocco has been, since 1912, the model region for rural modernization, for the intensification of the integration of the production process into the world market and for the importation of the most sophisticated machinery. This was so for the colonial administration and it remains so in independent Morocco. Nevertheless, the women in this paradise of technocrats, of technology and of capital all agree that their life situation, compared to that of their mothers, has never been so hard. The fears with which young women, in particular, are forced to live are described by the young Morroccan woman Khadija in the interview that follows.
Khadija is 17 years old and a seasonal wage-labourer. She is illitereate and has never been to school. Her work on nearby farms, often private ones, is irregular; in periods of peak labour demand Khadija may manage to get work which is paid at 7.50 dirhams a day.
Before working as a wage-labourer on the big farms what did you do ?
I worked for the family. When I was a child, I helped my mother around the house; I took care of my younger brothers and sisters and helped out with the daily work. I used to go to fetch firewood and water; I cleaned the courtyard and the rooms; I helped out in making the fire for baking the bread. Then when I was bigger I began to look after the animals. I took the animals out and brought them back. Sometimes I looked after them alone and sometimes I went out with my brother. Then when I got a little bigger. around ten years old. I was sent out to work on the big farms.
You never went to school? To the Koranic school?
Never. Here they don't send girls to school. Girls work, they help their mother. They bring water and firewood and take care of the children. How can you send a girl to school? The mother can't do everything, and who will take care of the animals? The boys? They are at school. Only rich people can send their girls to school. As for me, I've never set foot in a school. My brothers, yes, they have, but not me. They didn't manage to finish their schooling, but they know how to read and write. I don't know anything.
How much do you work per year?
Per year? I can tell you how much per week! For example, now it's the height of the citrus season. I have worked four days this week, and tomorrow will be the fifth. Five days a week is very unusual. Often I stay months without working. Every now and then I find work, but it is only for two or three days, and then whole weeks without work.
How do you find work?
That's the problem. You see, you can't go to the big farms and ask for work. They chase you away; they don't want to hire you; they only hire those they know. You have to be called to work. You stay in the village and wait to be called. That's our problem. As the village is not visible from the main road, as it is hidden, the big employers, who have trucks for collecting workers' don't come over here. They prefer to inform the villages who are on the road or go straight to Sidi Slimane to the Placement Office where a large number of people are registered and available. As for us, we are forgotten. We have to be satisfied with the neighbouring farms that we can get to by foot, one or two kilometres away. They inform us the night before, and we get going in the morning. If nobody comes to inform us, we stay in the village and wait.
It's tough. If only we could at least work regularly, if only we could, for example, work on the state farms. They pay a regular wage for some months of the year. You know when you are going to work, and you can organize yourself to do something else during the times when there is no work. You know how much you are going to earn. But now I don't know what I am going to do tomorrow. I just wait. Means of transportation is a crucial issue. I can only work on the farms near us. I can't travel far away. To begin with, I have no identity card. Then there is no regular, inexpensive means of transportation, and I don't know which farms would want me when they don't know me. So I can't go far away. I stay in the village and I wait for them to come and call me.
Why don't you have an identity card?
It's difficult to get one. My father already took some steps to get cards for my brothers, but for me. ..
1985 is International Youth Year.According to the UN General Assembly it is intended, among other things, to represent a useful contribution to mobilizing local, national, regional, and international efforts to ensure the best possible educational, occupational, and living conditions for young people. Whether or not young Khadija see Drawing taken from DGVN Feature Service No. 18,p. 7.