Happy International Women’s Day from everyone in the Roots Academy family! We had the opportunity to celebrate the holiday and learn some Darija at the same time, with Roots’ instructor Fatimazahra leading the celebration and teaching everyone something new. Through the use of group activities and worksheets, Darija students learned about four fascinating Moroccan women and how they have changed history. Here’s just a snapshot of some of the important figures students at Roots learned about today:
Born in 1940, Fatima is a celebrated writer and important feminist figure, especially within the Islamic world. After earning her doctorate in the USA, Fatima returned to Morocco and published feminist and sociopolitical books, which have been translated into many different languages. Her works are considered very influential and continue to be cited by feminists today even after her death in 2015.
Touria was the first Arab, Muslim, and African woman to receive her aviation license at the young age of 15. She received the license in 1951, after a long struggle against both the French forces running the academy, who did not believe in teaching Moroccans, and the many others who did not believe a woman should be a pilot. Touria continued to follow her passion in spite of all the critics, and earned a job as a pilot, was congratulated by the king, and became a source of inspiration for many other young women around the world.
Nawal was the first Moroccan athlete to become an Olympic gold medalist, and the first Arab and African woman to receive the same honor. Born in Casablanca, she is a former hurdler who won her medal in the 1984 summer Olympics. Her achievement paved the way for other female athletes from all over the world, especially Moroccan and Muslim women.
Aisha, also known as Mama Aisha, was a social activist and defender of women’s rights throughout her life. She established a foundation dedicated to helping single mothers and female victims of violence and abuse. Before her death in 2016, she received the OPUS award, worth 1 million dollars, and the prize money has gone to continuing the work she started with her foundation.
Students at Roots learned about these women through informative handouts and were guided through new vocabulary by Roots’ staff before sharing what they had learned with students in other groups. After everyone shared their newfound knowledge, students were put to the test and competed to see which group could remember the most about these impressive women. As a final part of the cultural activity, students were also challenged to a game involving other accomplished women from around the world. Before leaving, all participants were surprised with flowers from Roots Academy, and everyone left with smiles and knowing just a bit more about Moroccan history!