Image source: Ministry of Labour and Professional Insertion of Morocco (

Morocco’s economic and political stability has helped the country achieve continuous economic growth and significant poverty reduction over the past decade. However, while poverty trends are improving, Morocco has one of the lowest female labour force participation rates in the world.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Millenium Challenge Account Morocco (MCA) both support the Moroccan Government’s goal to make its population more employable. In line with this, and under a contract awarded by MCA, AETS is working with the Ministry of Labour and Professional Insertion (MTIP) to strengthen its annual Professional Equality Trophy, which supports and rewards the efforts of private sector companies in achieving gender equality in the workplace. MTIP’s Professional Equality Trophy recognises achievements in three categories: workplace and corporate culture, management and human resources, and parenthood. Ana Vilar, head of AETS’ Governance and Human Development department, is part of the team as gender expert.

Between February and September 2020, the AETS team conducted an evaluation of the Professional Equality Trophy, which looked at governance, resources, the application process, communications, and outreach efforts. The evaluation drew on companies’ past applications for the award, interviews with representatives of the public sector, and an online questionnaire aimed at private companies and professional and trade union organisations.

To present the findings of the evaluation and solicit feedback from the business community, MCA- Morocco and MTIP, in cooperation with AETS, hosted a webinar in late November 2020. Participants included Moroccan government officials, the Confédération Générale des Entreprises du Maroc (CGEM), trade union and association representatives, international partners including German development agency GIZ, and previous candidates for the Professional Equality Trophy (including those from the pharmaceutical and financial sectors). The evaluation revealed the two main motivations for companies in applying for the Professional Equality Trophy: to self-evaluate their gender-related policies, and to position themselves relative to their competitors. Companies prioritised the possibilities of receiving gender training and technical assistance over financial incentives for their efforts. Two of the webinars’ participants spoke particularly to these findings.

Mrs. Zakia Hajjaji, from the Moroccan Human Resources Association, recalled several high-profile studies demonstrating that gender equality in staffing is beneficial for companies. For example, she cited the 2015 McKinsey study that found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity in their staff were 15 percent more likely to have returns above their national industry median. While the Moroccan business community largely recognises these studies, she pointed out, they still need to act on the data.

Similarly, Mrs. Touria Lahrach, from the Democratic Confederation of Labour reflected: “The gender trophy … is pushing us as trade unions, companies, and the government to reflect on the representation of women in positions of responsibility and decision-making within companies.”

As a next step, AETS is finalising a qualitative study led by our colleague Mathilde van Drooghenbroeck, on how COVID-19 has impacted women’s participation in the Moroccan labour force and companies’ commitments to promoting gender equality. Assistance to improve the trophy application process and the structure of the trophy awards programme are also underway, with the aim of making make the programme more sustainable.
The Professional Equality Trophy rewards outcomes. Through the partnership between MCC, the Moroccan government, the business community, and unions, the Professional Equality Trophy is becoming a more attractive tool to encourage companies to adopt practices aimed at improving professional equality. This initiative is a great example of the impact that MCC’s women’s economic empowerment focused efforts can have.