Nabila Benomar


March 5, 2013

Nabila Benomar

Deputy in the House of Representatives, Morocco

iKNOW Politics: I would like to begin by asking you how you began your career in politics? And what motivated you to do so?

The first thing that helped me pursue a career in politics is the political environment in Morocco and the political will prevailing in it as a democratic country as well as King Mohamed the Sixth’s strong support for Moroccan women. Secondly, I have been an active member of the civil society for almost 35 years. And while civil society has doubtlessly played an important role in the political process of the country and has achieved tangible results, it is not as powerful as the legislative power – parliament. So I decided to enter political life from this door.

iKNOW Politics: What are the opportunities and challenges you had, as a woman, to face through your Political Career?

The foremost opportunity is the quota system which is in force in Morocco, and which gives women a chance to enter the political arena. The second opportunity that I was given was my own party’s confidence.

As for challenges and obstacles – and there are a lot I believe -the most prominent is the prevalent mentality, that is the patriarchal mentality. There are 8 parliamentary groups in the Moroccan Parliament and none of these groups is headed by a woman. There is only one female Head of a Committee. Women are still not given the chance to take on positions of leadership. Another obstacle I believe is that there is no entity within parliament to support women’s empowerment and mainstreaming.

iKNOW Politics: What are the most important partnerships that you have forged throughout your career in politics and how important were they?

One of the most important partnerships I believe was one between the Spanish and the Moroccan Parliaments. This represented an important step towards action in the Moroccan Parliament which allowed us to know more about the Spanish experience in gender mainstreaming, combating all forms of discrimination and violence against women within the two houses of the legislature. As a result of a long history, the Spanish parliament has a developed a model for supporting Women in Parliament. This took the form of permanent committees for women within the two houses. So our eight Moroccan female Parliamentarians – one from each of the 8 parliamentary groups- formed a working group in order to replicate this model and to establish a permanent committee for women’s affairs coordinators within our Parliament.

iKNOW Politics: What is your assessment of the importance of modern information and communication technologies in creating a conducive environment for women in politics?

Without a doubt, there is a need for unified action and communication between women politicians around the world. It is also necessary for Arab women active in politics to come together and to create a framework for this kind of cooperation. I believe that while the internet may help in this process, it is not the only way to do so.

iKNOW Politics: What advice would you give young women who wish to enter politics but are intimidated and reluctant to do so?

It is indeed a difficult and complex area but we must conquer this male dominated world. Young women at an early age must become part of this world while pursuing their education. Education is key in this respect. I encourage them all to do so. And our role, as older generations, is to work on trying to provide an encouraging and enabling environment for younger women to become involved in politics.

iKNOW Politics: What methods of political financing have you found most effective?

In terms of financial support, the most important contributors were international organizations such as the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and UN Women. These are the main sources of finance other than domestic financing.

iKNOW Politics: What recommendations would you suggest for different countries or societies to ensure there is a more level field between women and men when it comes to financing political participation and campaigning?

First of all we, women parliamentarians, have to work hard to accomplish tangible and visible results. We have to encourage political participation through defending the rights of both women and men. When people see what we are able to accomplish, they will be encouraged. Another thing is the need to provide an enabling environment for women’s political participation through continuous efforts to accomplish things like the permanent committee in parliament to secure a better future for women’s participation.