Today is International Women’s Day 2016. To celebrate, we’re highlighting 6 of Morocco’s countless extraordinary women from the past century.
Touria Chaoui was the first Moroccan and Arab female pilot. In 1952, when she was only sixteen years old, she debuted her aviation skills to the public to wide acclaim. She became a Moroccan national hero during the time of French colonization, and thus became an target for French authorities. When she was mysteriously assassinated at only nineteen, the whole country mourned.
Benalla is this year’s recipient of the U.S. Embassy Rabat’s International Women of Courage Award. She is the co-founder and director of the Transnational Initiative Countering Violent Extremism. She has spent the last two and a half years working on capacity-building programs and civil society projects in Northern Mali. Benalla has dedicated her career to advocating for peace and advancing social progress in North Africa.
Nezha Hayat is the founder and deputy chair of the Association des Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises du Maroc (Association of Women Business Managers in Morocco). She has dedicated her platform to campaign for the presence of women on boards of directors. Hayat is the first woman member of the Executive Board of Societe Generale Morocco.
Hind Touissate is the award-winning writer and entrepreneur behind According to Hind, a popular lifestyle blog. She describes herself as “a Global Citizen born in Morocco.” She’s also a public speaker, a world traveler, and a human rights activist. Hind is the founder of BETA Changemakers, a social enterprise with a mission to enhance the lives of students through art programs and build a community of changemakers in Morocco. This month, she is launching a new venture: Hind & Company, a fashion hijab design company.
Chenna is the founder of the organization Solidarité Feminine, which opens its doors to marginalized single mothers in Morocco. Despite backlash from conservatives, she continues to be dauntless in her advocacy. She is a staunch defender of the under-resourced and underprivileged. In 2009, Chenna was awarded the world’s largest faith-based prize for entrepreneurship, the Opus Prize, for her life achievement as a social activist.
Chadid was the first woman astronomer, and first Moroccan, to set foot in Antarctica. In 2006, she led an international expedition to install a major astronomical observatory in Antarctica, where she was also the first to place an Arab flag (Moroccan) at the South Pole. There, she is continuing her research and continuing to be a badass pioneer.