The agricultural sector is one of the strategic drivers of Morocco’s economy, generating 40 percent of the country’s jobs and currently employing four million people. Approximately 85 percent of the rural population, 57 percent of whom are women, works in agriculture. Women nevertheless still have very little access to decent incomes, land, and markets.
The rural poverty rate in Morocco is almost three times the urban rate. Some 70 percent of Morocco’s poor live in rural areas. Small farmers make up the majority of the sector (close to one million), but cultivate a mere 26 percent of the land. As a result of cultural and social constraints, women are especially affected by this phenomenon.
However, rural women have found a passionate champion in Itto Zeidguy. Ms. Zeidguy was in Rabat to attend a World Bank event on the agricultural sector and the role of women held on March 8, 2017. We wanted to know more about what motivates her. She spoke to us about her many years as an activist.
Q- Please introduce yourself.
My name is Itto Zeidguy, I am a native of the Errachidia region and I am a rural woman through and through. Throughout my life and career, I have had the opportunity to work with women and I very quickly realized that they were the mainspring of Moroccan society.
Q. What motivated you to become an advocate for rural women?
In the course of my job at Crédit agricole, my initial interactions with rural women made quite an impression on me. As a young executive at the Crédit agricole bank, I used to see scores of men come in to get loans to support their business activities, but I never saw any women. Whenever I traveled to rural areas however, I would see fields teeming with women engaged in often taxing activities. In Morocco and elsewhere, it is women who are most heavily involved in agricultural work, but who unfortunately are not sufficiently compensated for their efforts.
[Photo by Richard Allaway | Flickr]