/ Solidarité Féminine for Unmarried Mothers
In Morocco, unmarried mothers and their children suffer widespread social discrimination and exclusion. They are frequently rejected by their families and can be legally accused of prostitution. Only about 60% of unmarried mothers keep their children. Many newborn babies are abandoned. For the past 20 years, the organisation 'Solidarité Féminine' has been working to improve the situation of unmarried mothers. In restaurants run by the organisation they receive professional training and can earn small incomes. The social and legal counseling center supports them in planning an independent future. By lancing intensive informative campaigns, raising awareness in schools and universities, and lobbying with politicians, 'Solidarité Féminine' has made the situation of unmarried mothers a topic of public debate. cfd supports Solidarité Féminine's most recent project: a hammam in Casablanca, designed to create job opportunities for women.
Learning and Earning in the Hammam
The hammam is a Moroccan bath house with an adjacent fitness center. It offers steam baths and whirlpools, saunas, massage, cosmetic care and hairdressing, as well as gym lessons and fitness training. It also has a cafe with an attractive menu. 20 unmarried mothers receive training in the hammam and are able to earn a small income. This makes it possible for them to support themselves and their children while learning.
Educational Training and Child Care
As part of the training, a basic educational program improves the women's general competence and confidence. Besides learning to read and write in Arabian and French, the women focus on skills that are useful in everyday private and professional life, and include arithmetic, simple book-keeping, understanding and filling out official forms, as well as writing applications for jobs. It also contains general information about the law, in particular family law, about the welfare and health care systems, as well as children's rights and institutions that take care of them. While the women work or attend courses, their children are looked after in crèches run by the organisation. When necessary, social workers, pediatricians and the staff in the crèches can give advice on matters of child-raising.
Usually, the young women who approach Solidarité Féminine have suffered violence and been through traumatic experiences. The counseling center offers them psychological support. Social workers help them to legally register their children, find somewhere to live, and support them in their efforts to have the paternity of the child acknowledged. They also support their attempts to contact their families. The counseling center is also open to women who are not involved in the program, particularly if they are unmarried mothers.