A public debate about the social status of women accompanied the emergence of mass politics in Morocco after World War II. The Arabic-language press argued that true sovereignty required the liberation of the kingdom’s female citizens from the shackles of tradition. Taking inspiration from developments across the decolonizing world, nationalists promoted women’s “rights and duties” to build a “new Morocco” beyond the constraints of French colonialism. State formation became dependent on a profound social transformation. Following independence in 1956, however, King Mohammed V gradually replaced the public conversation about female emancipation with a narrative that began and ended with the royal palace, thereby constructing a unique version of state feminism that persists today.

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