Once A Shepherd Girl In Morocco, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem Is Now France’s Education Minister!
Everybody dreams of making it big in life but very few determined souls really act upon it. The story of Najat Vallaud-Belkacem is a testament to this, who overcame all the obstacles life laid at her feet and carved her own destiny.
Once a shepherd girl of four – who fetched water from the well – Najat moved to France with her family and faced the real world full of opportunities as well as struggles. The Moroccan girl who had no proficiency in French learnt the language by the end of her first year in college.
“The fact of leaving one’s country, one’s family, one’s root can be painful, my father had already found his place, but for us, for my mother, it was very difficult to get our bearings.”
Najat inherited hard work and resourcefulness from her father who laid strict rules for his daughters – no boys and no nightclubs till the age of 18. As a result, the girls completely surrendered themselves to studies.
Najat’s sister, Fatiha, is a lawyer in Paris.
While studying at the University of Amiens, Najat got the opportunity to pursue higher education with the prestigious Institut d’études politiques de (also known as Sciences Po). This set her on the path winding the political landscape in France.
Najat worked two jobs to take the financial load off her parents while pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration. It is during this time she met Boris Vallaud, a fellow student, and the two married in 2005.
Najat’s political career began with her joining the Socialist Party as an adviser to the mayor of Lyon. She later ran for elections and won the seat of the Councillor. In 2012, she was appointed as the Minister of Women’s Affairs by François Hollande, the then Socialist president.
In 2014, she served as the Minister of Women’s Right, Minister of City Affairs, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports. In a major cabinet shuffle, she was promoted to serve as the Minister of Education. While advising the youth who want to participate in the country’s politics, Najat said, “I have always advised the youths to get involved in politics. The best way to be happy with your future is by playing a part in it. If you’re just a spectator of collective fate, you’re bound to feel frustrated.”