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News || Sunday, 31 May 2015

With Rockefeller Foundation Funding, Souktel & MSI Launch Morocco’s First Labor Market Info Service for Women

Across Morocco, women’s participation in the workforce is shockingly low: Ranked 133th out of 142 countries on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Equality Index, less than one-third of Moroccan women are working or seeking jobs. For the minority who do find work, discrimination is a daily reality: On average, women earn 25% less than their male peers; only 10% of all companies listed on the country’s stock exchanges have female CEOs.

With few sources of information about basic employee rights, many working women suffer from abusive treatment by employers—and either can’t advance in their careers, or drop out of the labor force altogether.

Working to reverse this trend is the “Wad3eyati” project (Arabic for “my situation”). Funded by the US Department of Labor and delivered by global development implementer MSI, it aims to boost women’s access to jobs and training—by providing better information about job options and women’s rights in the workplace. The project also works with employers (like global insurance giant AXA) to create gender equality strategies and hiring plans. But outreach to women at scale, and at low cost, is a constant challenge—especially to marginalized women who aren’t likely to visit job centers, and who in many cases can’t read.

Earlier this year MSI partnered with Souktel to tackle this challenge, launching Morocco’s first-ever national Labor Market Information Hotline. Supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, the interactive mobile audio service lets women access content on demand—empowering them to learn about their rights in the workplace, and to better understand the opportunities and risks in the local job market. Covering a range of topics, from “Working Conditions for Pregnant Women” to sick leave and legal working hours, the hotline provides content adapted from the Moroccan National Labor Code in easy-to-understand local dialects, with simple wording. For the first time in Morocco’s history, the country’s Labor Code can now be accessed from any mobile device, and by any Moroccan citizen—even if they can’t read.

MSI’s Carine Chevallier, the Wad3eyati Project Director, noted: “Awareness of basic labor rights is crucial to improving gender equality in the workplace--and to eliminating female workers’ exposure to discrimination and poor working conditions. Through the mobile service developed by Souktel, workers can now gain that awareness, regardless of their gender, level of education or location”.

Christina Ganim, Souktel’s lead Project Manager for the initiative, agreed: “This mobile service is critical because it bridges a huge information gap. Through our work to co-design the service with its users, build the custom platform, and develop launch strategies with the community, we’ve witnessed how important this information is to every Moroccan woman’s life. As we look to scale up the service more broadly, I’m certain that it will have an even greater positive impact on working women across Morocco”.