Improving revenues and working and living conditions of women workers in berry sector in the Gharb and Larache region, Morocco

Barriers to women's economic empowerment targeted

In 2009, Oxfam identified several flaws in the berry sector, especially with regards to the working conditions and the non-respect of women workers' rights; no contracts, low rates of registration to social security, child labour, verbal violence and harassment, non-compliance with minimum wage and legal working hours, lack of identity documents for workers, very difficult transport conditions and non-compliance with health and safety standards in the workplace.

Approach

Oxfam and its partners have designed a programme to improve working conditions and increase respect for the rights of women workers in the berry sector in Morocco. At the national level, synergies have been developed between Moroccan civil society associations, state institutions, experts, berry producers in Morocco as well as women workers themselves. At the international level, Oxfam works with European importers and retailers of Moroccan berries.

The international strategy started in the UK in 2011 as a collaborative effort between supermarkets and berry importers, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), and Oxfam, who together created the “Better Strawberries Group” (BSG). An ambitious action plan was developed and for its implementation each buyer worked closely with his Moroccan suppliers. Nowadays, the international strategy is also implemented with Spanish enterprises and French enterprises buying berries in Morocco.

Evidence of impact on WEE

Direct dialogue with the buyers and suppliers of Moroccan berries in Morocco has emerged as an effective way to allow for sustainable changes, while being attentive to the challenges of each actor taking part in the dialogue (workers, local associations, producers, importers and retailers). Progress in several sections of the action plan is clearly a direct result of management and monitoring of the action plan done by these key UK buyers. These improvements are tangible, but are not happening in all companies and even less in those supplying the frozen strawberries market, as the UK market buys mainly fresh strawberries. Following the success of the international strategy and the outreach with British buyers, strawberry buying-companies in France, Spain and Sweden are being targeted to follow a similar approach. Key actions are being developed with companies in these countries aimed at harmonising the expectations of all importers of the Moroccan market.

Concrete achievements include the following: 

National identity card
  • More than 1,400 women received their National ID Card with the support of Oxfam's programme
  • Over 70% of pack houses and processing factories require ID Card for their workers
National Social Security Fund
  • All companies directly supplying the UK market, have obtained their CNSS ID
  • The programme has supported more than 3,025 people, including nearly 2,700 women, to get their CNSS card or check its functionality
Minimum Wage
  • 70% of the pack houses/processing units for which we have information, are ensuring payment of minimum wage
  • Women know their rights and increasingly refuse a job that does not pay the minimum wage

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Location

Morocco - Gharb and Larache regions

Affiliate

Oxfam Intermon, Oxfam GB, Oxfam France, Oxfam Italy and Oxfam Germany 

Donor

  • Spanish International Cooperation Agency for Development (AECID)
  • Autonomous Government of Valencia
  • European Union
  • Oxfam
  • Norwegian Embassy

Partners

  • Development Associations Network (RADEV)
  • Hands United association
  • Federation of the Democratic League for Women's Rights (FLDDF)
  • Youth for Youth Association (AJJ)
  • Chaml Association and the Moroccan Association for the Support and Promotion of Small Business (AMAPPE)
  • Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)  

Budget

GBP 3,252,641

Start date

2009

Value chain(s)

Berries

Tools/approaches

  1. Promotion of leadership of women workers groups (empowerment and capacity building)
  2. Awareness-raising campaigns to facilitate workers' access to information on labor rights
  3. Establishment of an observatory on working conditions in the berry sector by civil society organizations
  4. Coordination of an Alliance of civil society organizations to advocate on working conditions in the sector
  5. Influence and advocacy of public and private actors at different levels (local, national, international):
    • Facilitation of platforms of Moroccan companies and international importing companies on good social practices in the sector
    • Organization of meetings bringing together public institutions, the private sector, women workers and other stakeholders

Beneficiary reach

  • 51,415 people have been sensitized among which 21,695 women workers
  • 100 women workers have benefited from capacity building and are now women leaders defending workers rights
  • 6080 women workers have been received by the Observatory
  • 330 case of identity problems have been solved administratively

Key progamme documents

Report: Social protection, building dignity! Improving the working conditions in the red fruit sector of Morocco, 2012-2015

Research Théroux-Séguin, J. (2016), 'From Empowerment to Transformative Leadership: Intersectional Analysis of Women Workers in the Strawberry Sector of Morocco' in Women in Agriculture Worldwide Key issues and practical approaches.

Contact

Nicolas Gravier, Associate Country Director

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