Morocco: Preventing violence against schoolgirls


Women wearing face masks sitting around a rectangular table and drawing and writing on a large piece of white paper
Mothers working together to identify areas where their daughters could be at risk of violence, on their way to or back from school. Credit: Association Ennakhil

Violence against women and girls is widespread in Morocco[1], and fear of stigmatization and conservative cultural norms prevent most survivors from reporting it. Young women and adolescent girls are especially at risk, with 71 per cent of those aged between 15 and 19 reported to have been subjected to some form of violence[2].

Association Ennakhil, a non-governmental organization based in Marrakech city in western Morocco, has been working for 25 years to promote gender equality and the legal, political, socioeconomic and educational rights of women and girls. With the support of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, it is leading a project in the Marrakech-Safi region to advocate for and implement new prevention, protection and support mechanisms for girl survivors or those at risk of violence in school settings.  

Hassan Naji, Programme Officer at Association Ennakhil, says that many girls see “school as a space of freedom from their conservative family environment”, so it is crucial to ensure that school is a safe place for them. 

Changing norms 

The project is working with girl and boy students, aged between 10 and 19, to raise awareness of violence against women and girls, deconstruct gender stereotypes and question behaviours and attitudes that perpetuate gender-based violence. Through cultural, artistic and sports activities, it is encouraging students to debate and learn from one another, while promoting positive masculinity and non-violence. 

Hassan Naji says that “to effectively address the needs related to ending violence against girls in and around the school environment […] changing the norms of negative masculinity should not remain an isolated component”, but rather should be a crucial entry point to preventing violence. 

Improving prevention and response 

Association Ennakhil works with a wide range of actors in many sectors, including health, police, justice and education. After a long consultative process, the stakeholders have developed and implemented strong prevention protocols and referral mechanisms for women and girl survivors of violence.  

The project has also established six listening centres in the targeted schools to ensure that survivors of violence are heard and receive adequate support. As of March 2022, 95 girls had already accessed the centres and received support.  


During the COVID-19 crisis, Association Ennakhil witnessed first-hand a 15 per cent increase in calls to their listening centres compared to 2019, reflecting the impact of both the pandemic and increased rates of domestic violence. In response, it quickly adapted the project, including by: 

  • developing training for 35 educators and social workers on how to monitor and identify changes in children’s behaviour; 
  • offering counselling and mediation services in schools;  
  • implementing a prevention, protection and support protocol for women and girl survivors of violence; and
  • opening a catering training centre to help women and girl survivors of violence obtain paid employment. 


[1] El Feki, S., Heilman, B. and Barker, G., Eds. (2017) Understanding Masculinities: Results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) – Middle East and North Africa. Cairo and Washington, D.C.: UN Women and Promundo-US.

[2] Haut-Commissariat au Plan. 2019. Rapport sur les violences faites aux femmes et aux filles, Enquête Nationale sur la Violence à l’Encontre des Femmes et des Hommes.