If you don’t dream, you don’t live. If you dream, you win the world. From being an outlander to becoming the first woman education minister of France, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has proved these words right. Belkacem was born in a village of Bni Cheker, a Moroccan countryside, as the second child among seven siblings. She spent her earlier years in rural areas of the Rif mountain ranges in northern Morocco but moved to France as a four-year-old with her mother and sister to join her father who was a construction worker in the country.
Being an immigrant, interest in politics was natural for Belkacem. However, no one but only Belkacem would have dreamt of becoming a minister one day. Belkacem had a smooth journey through school and in later years she received a scholarship to study politics at the Paris Institute of Political Studies and graduated in 2002 as 26-year-old. In the same year, she also embarked on her political journey by becoming a member of the Socialist Party.
She married to civil servant Boris Vallaud in 2005 after courting in the university. She also gave birth to a set of twins – a boy and a girl.
Belkacem was first inducted in the French Cabinet as the Minister for Women Affairs in 2012. Since then she has made a mark for herself by taking up issues concerning people, and something that is not considered mainstream in the French politics.
As a woman affairs minister, she supported the legislation of gay marriage and gender ideology even as she was criticised by many, according to the independent.co.uk. After becoming the education minister, Belkacem, who calls herself a non-practising Muslim, made headlines by opposing ‘burkini’ bans in France, calling it “a threat to individuals’ freedoms.”
She was quoted as saying to a radio channel that she was opposed to both –from someone being forced to wear burkinis as well as the bans on the swimwear. Belkacem, however, continues to be attacked in the country for being an immigrant. Sometimes she has also been accused of “flaunting her charms.”.
In a recent interview to French paper Le Monde, Belkacem said she was fortunate to have found an opportunity to study despite being born in a village that had no electricity. And herein lies an inspiration for all of us.