When women’s land rights are protected, they are more likely to make investments that boost their household income, improve their land’s productivity, and stimulate economic growth. These links between land rights, income generation, and economic growth are the reason that Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has prioritized investments in women’s land rights, particularly in the Morocco Employability and Land Compact. The compact’s “Land Productivity” project is investing approximately $170 million in rural and industrial land activities as well as improvements in land governance in Morocco; it is the largest investment in the land sector that MCC has financed to date.
In May 2022, the Millennium Challenge Account Morocco — the Government of Morocco’s team managing the compact — launched the Centre d’Inclusion des Femmes au Foncier (CIFF) in Rabat, Morocco, with key stakeholders in attendance. The CIFF, also referred to as the Center for Women’s Inclusion in Land Rights, will be based within the Ministry of Agriculture and will involve ongoing engagement with other Moroccan government agencies working in the land sector, as well as non-governmental and civil society organizations.
The concept for the CIFF came out of a 2019 U.S. diplomatic mission to Morocco and aligns with the work that MCC is doing to increase women’s economic empowerment around the world by introducing reforms that strengthen women’s access to and control of land and land resources.
In Morocco, recent legal changes allow women heirs to inherit land and acquire land titles through the process of privatization of certain collective lands. MCC is supporting the Government of Morocco to pilot an approach to land titling that emphasizes informing communities about women’s land rights and engaging women in activities, including literacy classes, to strengthen their abilities to manage their land productively. Going beyond legal and administrative processes, the pilot approach has catalyzed social change in participating communities, with many women engaging more in land-related activities and management than they would have in the past. For example, seeking support to set up cooperatives and to use their agricultural land in more productive ways.
The Center for Women’s Inclusion in Land Rights has three main objectives: 1) to create an “observatory” to collect, analyze, produce, and disseminate gendered land data, particularly related to women’s access to land and their participation in land governance; 2) to support women to exercise and defend their land rights by carrying out communication and awareness-raising on women’s land rights; and 3) to support the development of public policy for gender-sensitive land tenure reforms through the production of studies and reports, as well as the issuance of advisories and proposals for reforms.
One key activity of CIFF will be to develop a database that makes sex-disaggregated data on land use and ownership available in one place for the first time for institutional actors, professionals, academics, and civil society. Being able to identify areas for improvement and to monitor progress will inform the formulation and implementation of land policies that seek to ensure the participation of women and men on an equal footing.
Building on the government of Morocco’s land titling activities and support for rural women’s land rights, MCC expects that the first phase of the CIFF’s work will involve piloting the expansion of services to meet the needs of rural women. Ultimately, the center’s mission encompasses women’s land rights and inclusion in governance of all types of land — rural, urban, industrial, forest, etc. — and marks a milestone in the consideration of women’s land rights in Morocco.
MCC’s support for the CIFF is just one more way the agency is partnering with countries around the world to support the full economic inclusion of women by removing the financial, legal, and cultural barriers that prevent them from earning higher incomes and ensuring economic growth is shared equitably across their societies.