Anatomy of an Uprising: Women, Democracy, and the Moroccan Feminist Spring

43 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2013 Last revised: 16 Jan 2014

Date Written: December 6, 2013


During the Arab Spring, Moroccan men and women first took to the streets on February 20, 2011 to demand governmental reforms. Their movement became known as the Mouvement du 20-Février. In a series of protests, Moroccans called for democratic change, lower food prices, freedom for Islamist prisoners, and rights for the Berber people. Initially, King Mohammad VI attempted to suppress the movement. When this approach did not succeed, in a televised speech, the King agreed to reform the government. In June 2011, the constitutional committee proposed changes that would reduce the King’s absolute powers, implement democratic reforms, and create a system in which the Prime Minister would be the majority party leader in Parliament. On July 1, 2011, the new constitution was passed by popular vote. In November 2011, Morocco experienced its first elections under the new constitution. Until now, Arab Spring publications have focused on the revolutions without taking into account the feminist perspective. In this Article, the author examines how the feminist perspective impacted the Arab Spring in Morocco based on her interviews with women who participated in the Mouvement du 20-Février. Further, this Article analyzes the feminist perspective’s impact on how women conceptualize their status within the Mouvement du 20-Février and the future democratic society. Part II provides a background on the Mouvement du 20-Février and the demands for constitutional reforms. To understand the Feminist Spring Movement, Part III examines the gap between de jure and de facto women’s rights in Morocco. Part IV examines the applicability of democratic and feminist theory to how Moroccan women view democracy as a mechanism for change in their individual lives and as a collective society. This Article posits that many Mouvement du 20-Février activists fear that changes in Morocco will be slow, merely perfunctory, and will not lead to fundamental transformation for the most vulnerable members of Moroccan society.

Suggested Citation

McKanders, Karla Mari, Anatomy of an Uprising: Women, Democracy, and the Moroccan Feminist Spring (December 6, 2013). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2014, University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 225, Available at SSRN:

Karla Mari McKanders (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University, School of Law ( email )

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Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-322-3092 (Phone)

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