Your book, “African Girl, African Woman,” appears to be born out of a personal project and experience. What was your inspiration for the book?
The book is based on my own experience and outlines all the struggles and growth I have gone through in my life, starting with academia through to becoming a professional entrepreneur as well as an officer in the public sector. I wrote the book as a guide for all young women and girls to show them that by persevering after falling and to stand up and believe in their dreams, they can make it. It was the first motivational and inspirational book for African women written by an African woman.
What are the main priorities for helping women in Africa achieve their dreams?
To prepare women to become tomorrow’s leaders, we have to complete several steps. We need to help them grow up confident and find their power within. Once women have that, they start realizing they can dream, grow, and deserve something better as a professional aspiration. Once a woman has that strength, she also becomes more resilient. Men always believe they know everything and can do anything; we need to reach that level for women. With that power, women then need skills in order to launch their businesses and succeed. They need to learn to use digital tools, turn an idea into something feasible, draw up a business plan, go to banks, and raise money. Less than 1% of all investment goes to female entrepreneurs. This is just some of the range of many things that we need to address in order to say we have prepared women to become fully participating actors in Africa.
What can be done in Morocco to boost this activity and empower women in Morocco as a template for the rest of Africa?
There are several programs around the world coming to Morocco now to train women to become more technical and go digital. We need more of those networks and easy programs that anyone can join. We also need accessibility and provide access to everyone. When focusing on female empowerment, we have to start with children. That is where getting STEM into everyone’s education and getting computers into schools is extremely important. It starts at the primary and secondary school levels. Governments and policies should help by setting up programs that will help women feel more comfortable using digital tools. In finance, there is a lack of training and skills. We must not only encourage women to be entrepreneurs but also give them the skills that will allow them to be business savvy. There are many programs and NGOs around the world that offer free access online that show women how to start businesses. Linking those programs to real people is what I want to build through a platform that enables people to connect.
What is your final message for Africa’s women as they become more empowered, confident, and tech savvy?
Female empowerment is everyone’s responsibility. It is also about preparing the next generation, providing education, and getting both girls and boys at the same level. You need to encourage both of them to have STEM education and be at ease with science. It starts at home and in schools. There is room for everyone, and we encourage women to sit on boards and be in top management roles. Keeping all those arguments in mind, we need to have women play a central role in the economy. Women invest 90% of whatever they earn on their children and their education. Clearly, more money goes back to the economy when women are succeeding and scaling up their businesses. My message is this: let us all join this great mission to empower girls and women in Africa and around the world. We all have an amazing role to play in this effort.