ENRIQUE CERNA: As in most Muslim countries, the political system in Morocco has long been dominated by men. Of the 325 members of Morocco's parliament, only two are women. (Chanting and applause) But the country's 39-year-old king, Mohamed VI, who has been pushing democratic reforms in Morocco, wants that to change. In May, Morocco's parliament, which has limited powers and authorities, approved a proposal, backed by the king, that sets aside 30 seats for the election of women in the September national elections.
MOHAMMED ACHAARI, Minister of Culture (Translated): The king thinks it's only fair to have women be largely represented in the parliament because, after all, they constitute 50 percent of the population, and they should therefore be represented accordingly.
ENRIQUE CERNA: This act by Morocco's parliament is rare in the Arab world, where the percentage of women in elected positions is minimal. It has forced Morocco's political parties to find strong candidates for election to parliament. Fatima Bellmouden says it's long overdue. She is one of the two women in the current parliament.
FATIMA BELLMOUDEN (Translated): This is extremely important for Moroccan women in the upcoming national election. The parties, in general, have always been filled by men, so this is an opportunity to break this patriarchal system in this country.
CATHY ALLEN, Center for Women and Democracy: Morocco is looking at this election to put it on the map. If these women are elected, it the parliamentary rules are followed, what happens is that they become the first nation in the Arab 40 that actually will have 10 percent or more of their parliament as women. Most of these countries have 2.3 percent or less.
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