Women’s Empowerment Through Sport: A Moroccan Case Study”

Mouad Benouzekri, Youssef Hssikou., Morocco

  Sport plays a crucial role in promoting women’s rights, offering women and girls often underestimated opportunities to assert themselves as independent individuals, especially in patriarchal societies. To achieve this, investments in infrastructure and athletes are essential. Equally important is the desire to change and break societal and cultural boundaries. That’s why I’ve chosen to discuss Morocco’s experiences, highlighting three key examples.

  A prime example is the Moroccan women’s national team, set to become the first Arab nation to compete in the Women’s World Cup in Australia. This team has made significant cultural strides, notably during the last African Cup hosted in Morocco, where they reached the finals. Investments in infrastructure, such as academies and regional facilities, coupled with salaries for women’s teams in the ‘Botola’ league, have transformed these athletes into professionals, earning them immense popularity among Moroccans. We should also not forget that Moroccan mothers are one of the key aspects that helped this team reach this far by nurturing them and helping them the best way they can.

  Another story that deserves attention is the story of Meryem, a self-sufficient, independent Moroccan young woman who embarked on a solo journey to traverse the entire African continent by bicycle, even conquering Kilimanjaro. She started her journey from Casablanca with the intent of inspiring Moroccan girls the same way African women inspired her to go on this journey. This really shows how sports have made women have strong desires and see the worth in achieving what they want, as Meryem wanted to fulfill her wish to continue her journey to South Africa and share more of her experience to empower Moroccan girls.

  Nawal el Moutawakel is another woman worth talking about, as she is one of the first African, Arab, and Moroccan woman to ever win an Olympic gold medal in a 400m hurdles event at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. El Moutawakel’s triumph was historic for female athletes from Arab and Muslim majority nations, many of which have a history of restricted women’s rights. It inspired future Olympic champions like Syria’s Ghada Shouaa, who won heptathlon gold in 1996. This goes to show how sport is important for women’s rights and how it can help women shine more and gain new status in our society, especially since we live in a patriarchal society. It can really change our whole view of women as well as encourage, empower, and inspire Moroccan girls to pursue their dreams.

  All of these examples are proof that we need to open more opportunities for women to showcase their talents and encourage them to participate in such events. Their victories will pave the way for more Moroccan girls to prove themselves in this patriarchal society, as well as change the way women are perceived by everyone, including themselves. This change is truly remarkable, as we can observe how little chances are given to women in every field. Even more, sports proved to be an essential aspect in progressing the views people have on women and especially their roles in society.

  Women do not have the upper hand in every situation in Morocco, but progress is being made. And in the field of sports, we can see how it is assisting Morocco in advancing its notions about women and their place in society. Furthermore, a paradigm shift has occurred in the world of sports. While financial barriers and inequalities persist, sports have evolved into a development tool, enabling women to gain confidence, live healthy lives, and assert their independence in a male-dominated society.