COVID-19 and Women in Morocco: Housework Prevents Girls From Education

Morocco/February 25, 2021/By: Yahia Hatim/Source:

Housework and daily chores have significantly impacted the ability of Moroccan girls to follow remote classes during the COVID-19 lockdown, a recent study has found.

The impact was further aggravated after Morocco’s Ministry of Education announced in May 2020 the cancellation or postponement of exams, according to a report published today by the High Commission for Planning and the UN Women office in Rabat.

The report studied the impact of COVID-19 on girls and women during and after the nationwide lockdown, focusing on a study sample of 2,350 households across Morocco.

The study found that housework, which is still largely considered a “female duty” in Moroccan society, negatively impacted the time that girls and young women were able to allocate for education during the lockdown.

About 27% of girls and young women in Morocco declared feeling overloaded by housework, including 10.5% who constantly felt overloaded and 16.5% who only felt that way from time to time.

In contrast, only 7.9% of boys and young men said they had felt overloaded by housework during the lockdown, including 1.8% who felt that way on a constant basis and 6.1% from time to time.

Hardworking girls

Despite the generally-larger load of housework they have to endure, girls have been overall more diligent in following remote classes than boys.

After the Ministry of Education announced the cancellation or postponement of exams, 39% of girls continued to regularly follow remote lessons, while only 28% of boys did the same.

The study suggested that early maturity is the main reason girls are more studious than boys.

“We believe that [girls] acquire maturity at an earlier stage and show more autonomy than boys. They are more conscious about the difficulties that will face them in upcoming school years and of their handicap in the job market,” the report said. “They work harder because they realize that they have worse future prospects in the case of non-education.”

Supporting this theory is that the rate of girls who have expressed worries about remote education is higher than that of boys.

About 24% of girls said they are worried about the new learning model, while only 21% of boys made similar remarks.

Moreover, 42% of girls said they are highly motivated to follow remote classes, while only 33% of boys shared the same enthusiasm.

Household disparities

In addition to students’ gender-based differences, the study found several disparities relating to remote education based on the gender of the heads of families.

For instance, women have been less accepting of the Ministry of Education’s decision to cancel or postpone exams than men.

The rate of women who fully agreed with the decision ranges from 34% to 37%, depending on the level of education, while the rate of men who approved of the decision varied between 56% and 61%.

According to the report, women are less accepting of the ministry’s decision “because they believe that their children have studied hard and need their efforts to be rewarded.”

HCP and UN Women have also noticed that female-headed households in Morocco have less access to the tools used for remote education than male-headed households.

The main reason, the study suggested, is that women-headed families have a higher rate of precarity and financial hardships.

Nearly one fifth (19.5%) of male heads of families paid for internet subscriptions during the lockdown so their children can follow online classes. Meanwhile, only 7.1% of female heads of families made similar investments.

About 10.8% of male heads of families were also able to purchase smartphones for their children, compared to only 7.1% of their female counterparts.

Female-headed households, however, receive more gifts and donations than their male-headed counterparts. During the lockdown, about 10.3% of women-headed families received smartphones as a gift, while only 1.3% of men-headed families received similar donations.

Intertwined inequalities

Another major gender-based disparity between households is their satisfaction with remote education tools. Female-headed households have a satisfaction rate ranging from 30% to 41%, depending on the children’s level of education. Male-headed households, meanwhile, have a lower satisfaction rate varying between 23% and 26%.

Moreover, children in women-headed families received less support while learning than those in men-headed families. The rate of children who received support fluctuated between 22.5% and 27% in the first type of households and between 27% and 37% in the second.

Finally, large disparities appeared while comparing the degree of interest in following remote classes between children from female-headed households and their counterparts from male-headed families.

In households headed by women, 22% of children in primary school and 17% of children in middle schools showed no interest in following remote classes. The rates are significantly lower — only 14% and 9% respectively — in men-headed households.

The study suggested that the lower rates of interest among female-headed households are due to the other disparities relating to the ability to purchase communication tools and to support children.

“This once again proves the existence of inequalities between children depending on the gender of the head of the family. Such a situation risks further accentuating educational inequalities,” the report warned.

mariamsarraute Ver todo

Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.

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COVID-19 and Women in Morocco: Housework Prevents Girls From Education – Sarraute Educación María Magdalena

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