We empower local women at Argan oil cooperatives

Life in the argan forest is very different from other areas in Morocco, it is still very traditional and women commonly do not partake in the income-generating workforce. These women employed at argan oil cooperatives have accepted their first job and salary ever. Argan oil cooperatives are structured with the aim of having all the employees equally and democratically involved in all decision-making processes of the cooperative. Most cooperatives have annual meetings where members vote on who should be part of the board and administration.

Numerous women’s argan oil cooperatives have been established in Morocco over the past decade providing employment opportunities for women inhabiting the Argan forest area. While female employment in the Moroccan paid workforce is generally lower compared to that of male employment, these women have for the first time started working outside the household. Women’s important work at cooperatives should be developed to ensure the continued growth of the argan industry and the health of the forest.

Quotes from female employee at Argan oil cooperatives:

“It has given me the freedom to leave the house alone to go to work and the souk (local market)”

“I’ve become organized, I eat at set times, work, don’t sleep as much and now it feels my life has a meaning”

“Working at the coop has had a positive impact on my life. I feel good in my shoes. I now have a salary. If I want something, I buy it. Before, if I wanted something, I couldn’t do anything about it. Now I can. It has given me freedom I didn’t have before”

Employment opportunities at argan oil cooperatives have given women a resource they did not hold before. They have contributed to changing the rules and norms in the Amazigh society that for so long have prevented women from seeking employment outside the household. The resources these women are given and the meaning and motivation the women bring with them to work at argan oil cooperatives act as steps on the way to increased empowerment.