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Recognizing Moroccan Women Who Shine and Inspire

Women rights in Morocco have been boosted by sweeping reforms in family code (called Moudawana) in 2004. Moroccan women have fought for these reforms thru many organizations and associations that are supported by Morocco's king Mohamed VI. The government has approved one of the most progressive laws on women's and family rights in Arab countries. These reforms are now seen as a model by feminists across the Muslim world.

But apart from family law, women in Morocco have had many other rights that are only dreamed about by other women in many Islamic countries. They have had old rights to education, employment and sports. Prophet Muhammed himself granted women these rights and set his wife as a model. Prophet Muhammed wife Khadija was a businesswoman. Women worked in fields, farms, medicine and trade in his era. He also not only ok'd sports but encouraged it.

Women make 51% of Morocco's population. Moroccan women are great workers and performers. They excel as leaders when given the leadership opportunity. They have imposed themselves by the merit of their competence. In today's Morocco, it is not unusual to see a group of female youngsters parading together through the streets of the country on their motorcycles from Honda, Suzuki, Harley-Davidson, and Yamaha.

Also, Moroccan women have long ventured into many careers that have been traditionally reserved for men only: police officers, airline pilots, train drivers, football(soccer) coaches and team managers, parliament members and cabinet ministers.

Moroccan women performance, achievement and participation

Here are some achievements attesting to Moroccan women rights:

  • The first Arab woman to fly a plane was a young Moroccan lady whose name is Touria Chaoui.

  • First Moroccan woman parachute skydiver to win first prize in a competition is Aicha Meki in 1956.

  • First female football (soccer) coach in the Arab world is a Moroccan. Her name is Touria Azerwal.

  • First female piano player in the Arab world was a Moroccan. Late Ghita Aloufir.

  • The first Arab woman to drive a train is from Morocco. Her name is Saida Abad.

  • The first Arab woman to manage a correctional facility (prison) is Moroccan. Her name is Bouchra Msali.

  • The first Arab female radio broadcaster in the fifties is Moroccan. Her name is Latifa Fassi.

  • The first Arab woman to participate in the tough international car racing competition called Rally Dakar is Moroccan. Her name is Saida Ibrahimi.

  • The first Arab woman firefighter is Moroccan. Her name is Fatima Abouk.

  • The first Arab female athlete is Moroccan. Her name is Fatima Faqeer.

  • The first Arab and muslim woman to reach the Antarctica is the Moroccan astrology and space scientist Meriem Chadid.

  • First motorcycle club in the Arab world for women - Miss Moto Maroc - was founded by the Moroccan Delilah Mousbah.

The Best Moroccan Women in Sports

Nawal El Moutawakil

Nawal is the legendary Moroccan athlete with a great start back in 1982 when she won her first gold medal for the 110m hurdles at the African Championships in Athletic. She added another two in the 400m hurdles in 1984 and 1985. She was the only female in the Moroccan Olympic team that participated in 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. She impressively won the women's 400 m hurdles gold medal, entering history as the first female Moroccan, Arab and Muslim to become an Olympic champion. Later to be used as role model for many women who followed in her footsteps. She has been herself actively helping women achieve their similar goals.

Her influence internationally has also increased significantly in recent years. In 1995, she became a council member of the International Association of Athletics Federations and two years later she became the first Muslim woman ever to be elected to the International Olympic Committee.

A member of the IOC Women and Sports Commission, the IOC Marketing Commission and the IOC International Relations Commission, in 2004 she was appointed Chair of the IOC Evaluation Commission for the 2012 Olympic Games.

In January 2010, she was appointed Chair of the IOC’s Co-ordination Commission for Rio and in July 2012 she was elected a Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee - the first woman from a Muslim and Arab nation ever to be elected. In 2015 she was presented with the Légion d’Honneur by French President Francois Hollande.

She was a founder member of the Laureus World Sports Academy and has been Vice Chair and Trustee of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. In 2010 she won the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award for her work for women in sport and the International Olympic Committee.

Nezha Bidouane

Nezha Bidouane has a great portfolio of achievements started in 1990 when she won her first gold medal for the 400m hurdles in the African Championships in Athletic. Double Gold medalist of 400m Hurdles in 1997 and 2001 World Championships. She narrowly missed the 1999 gold medal by a millisecond (52.90sec) to Pernia(52.89sec) and contended with silver for the 400m Hurdle competition on controversial and contested results. She won the World Championships final at Athens by excitingly defeating Deon Hemmings (Jamaica) and Kim Batten (USA). Bidouane's 52'97" performance was simply impressive and a great moment for Moroccan sport history. Her victory meant she became part of the three athletes’ legends for 400m Hurdle women. Her Championship performances are also marked by a 400m Hurdle bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Bidouane oversees the annual Women's Race to Victory 8K road race in Rabat.

Women Football National Team

Morocco’s Atlas Lionesses have etched their name in the annals of football history after securing their first-ever qualification for the knockout stage of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

In a thrilling and competitive match against Colombia on Thursday, the Moroccan national team showcased their impressive skills and delivered a stunning performance on the field, securing a 1-0 victory.

What makes Morocco's achievement even more remarkable is that they are the first team from the North Africa and Middle East (MENA) region to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Beyond their on-field prowess, the Moroccan team has also made headlines for promoting inclusivity and breaking barriers. Morocco’s Nouhaila Benzina became the first-ever player to wear a hijab during the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Legendary Moroccan women in Society

Fatima Mernissi - Literature

Fatima Mernissi is a Moroccan feminist, sociologist, and writer. Throughout her career, she has shown exceptional devotion to her faith and activism. Mernissi has raised her voice about the issues that marginalized women face in Morocco. She has conducted a series of studies in Morocco as part of her work as a sociologist.

Mernissi’s scholarly and literary work includes “Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern World”, “The Forgotten Queens in Islam and Intersectionality”, “Women’s Rebellion & Islamic Memory and Gender Roles” and “Beyond the Veil and Ethnocentrism”. Mernissi received several prestigious awards including the Prince of Austria award and the Erasmus Prize.

Touria Chaoui - Aviation

Touria Chaoui represents the epitome of fearlessness and heroism for Moroccan women. Chaoui attended an aviation school based in Tit Mellil starting in 1950. Already a licensed pilot at the age of 15, she became the first Arab woman to fly a plane.

The young pilot received an award from Sultan Mohamed V in recognition of her achievements. Her success came to an end, however, in 1956, when she was assassinated, leaving Moroccans grieving the loss of the brave woman she was.

Aicha Chenna - “The Moroccan Mother Teresa”

Aicha Chenna is a Moroccan social worker and an advocate for and supporter of women’s rights in Morocco. Chenna is known for having a heart of gold and her continued efforts to help others.

Chenna founded the Association Solidarite Feminine (Female Solidarity Association) in 1985, an organization that focuses on helping and assisting single mothers and abused women. Chenna also published a book titled Miseria, where she exposed the societal issues that women face in Morocco. Through her charity work and activism, Chenna has become an icon of Moroccan feminism.

Aziza Bennani Diplomacy

Aziza Bennani is the former Permanent Ambassador of Morocco to UNESCO, where she was the first female Moroccan ambassador. She was head of the Department of Hispanic Studies at Mohammed V University from 1974 until 1988, when she became Dean of the Faculty of Letters at Hassan II Mohammedia University. In 2007, she was elected President of the 16th UNESCO General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Aziza regularly speaks on the vital role cultural diplomacy plays in political diplomacy and on the importance of intercultural dialogue.

Zineb Mouline - Science

Zineb Mouline has an extensive educational background in chemistry. Upon obtaining her Ph.D. in Chemistry and Physical Chemistry of Materials at the National School of Chemistry of Montpellier in France, Mouline moved to Japan. She joined the Department of Frontier Materials of the Nagoya Institute of Technology.

The researcher has since found her place in the land of the rising sun. She is currently fluent in Japanese and works with the Department of Applied Chemistry of the prestigious University of Tokyo.

Meriem Chadid - The first Moroccan and French woman to reach the heart of Antarctica

Meriem Chadid is a Moroccan-French astronomer, explorer, and astrophysicist. Her childhood was marked by a passion for astronomy, sparked the moment she read a Johannes Kepler book. Chadid followed her heart and earned a PhD in Astronomy and Space from the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse. Chadid became the first Moroccan and French woman to reach the heart of Antarctica and she was the first person to plant a Moroccan flag in Antarctica.



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