In Morocco, notions of disability are outdated and people with disabilities are often treated as charitable cases. They are infantilised by society and the language used to refer to them exacerbates the stigma they face. They face social, economic and educational exclusion.
Morocco is a signatory to local and international treaties on the rights of people with disabilities, yet these rights are rarely translated on the ground. Disability laws tend to focus on prevention and look at the issue from a medical perspective rather than a human rights one.
Children with disabilities are a major cause of concern because of the lack of access to education. Disabled girls, particularly those living in rural areas, face multiple prejudices and therefore have the lowest chance of attaining an education. According to Moroccan government figures, 80 per cent of women living with disabilities have no educational attainment compared with 53 per cent of disabled men.
Despite the fact that 5 per cent of the population lives with disabilities, transport, schools and public places are not equipped to help. This creates daily obstacles that limit freedom of movement, restrict independence and prevent inclusion in the workforce and in public life. Non-governmental organisations have had to step in where the government has failed.
L'Association Errahma des Handicapées Azilal (Errahma Association for the Disabled in Azilal) works with people with disabilities in the High Atlas Mountains region of Azilal. The organisation’s goal is to safeguard the wellbeing of people with disabilities and promote their integration in the economic and social fabric of Morocco.
Errahma offers disability screening services, medical services and supports those who need surgical interventions. It runs literacy classes and works to improve conditions of local schools by equipping them with the facilities needed to help student mobility and access to lessons.
It conducts regular cultural and sporting events to promote the inclusion of girls with disabilities, in addition to discussions and workshops to raise awareness of the issues they face.
Errahma runs vocational training sessions for girls and women with disabilities and provides educational classes and speech therapy. The organisation also promotes collaboration between the various stakeholders, such as l'Entraide Nationale, that work on disability in the area and carries out advocacy activities to sensitise local communities.
Errahma’s strong participatory approach has been a crucial element in its success. To date, it has reached over 1,600 people.