Najat Vallaud Belkacem – Why She Made it Big

There is an image of a raggedly dressed girl alongside a woman in pants and a jacket circulating the social media. Once you start reading the posts, it is revealed that both photos are of the same girl. A story about rags to riches.  The woman today and her past life are poles apart. Her name is a rather peculiar one to pronounce, Najat Vallaud Belkacem and she originally comes from a Moroccan family.

Who is this person, anyway?


Najat’s father was working as a construction worker in France. Already somewhat settled in the new environment, away from home, he asked for his family to move with him. Najat has expressed in interviews that moving away from family and her roots was not a very easy transition for her or her mother.

The girl on the right seems more like Najat rather than the ‘shepard’ girl image above.
Some interesting things about her:
  • She looks incredibly young for her actual age. Najat was born in 1977.
  • She comes from a village in Nador, Morocco.
  • Najat comes from a big family of 7 siblings.
  • She worked two jobs while pursuing Masters Degree to help her parents.
  • Interestingly her grandparents have Spanish and Algerian origin!
  • One of her sisters is a lawyer in Paris.
  • She has held a number of offices before becoming the Minister of Education and Research in 2014.
  • Her first job in her political career was that of an advisor to the Mayor of Lyon (Socialist Party)
  • Najat has also worked as a Minister of Women’s’ Affairs in 2012 under President Holland
How do people make it big?

It is a positive story of a girl who broke all barriers. She must have faced many hurdles to get where she is today. She rose above her background. The story of Najat brings many questions to my mind, however. 

Is it only possible for young aspiring individuals to make it big if they are part of a developed country’s workforce? Is it not in the cards for those in the third world countries to achieve their dreams, especially if they come from poor families? Why do we make Najat Vallaud who she is only when she leaves for a better life somewhere else? Malala Yousafzai becomes successful only after she’s under the radar of Taliban.

Malala Yousaf Zai latest achievements 

Before you call me a cynic, I am aware of the abundant talent that also makes it big by staying in Pakistan. There is a  recent success story of Muhammad Shaheer Niazi, a 17 year old from Karachi, who wrote a remarkable paper on Physics that caught international attention.

read more on Shaheer Niazi

There are many more such inspiring stories of our youth making us proud abroad. There are the likes of Arfa Karim, the computer prodigy who became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional in 2004. We have scores of young boys who ace their O level and A level examination, especially after Ali Moeen Nawazish who rose to fame with his 22 As in A level. 

read more here about Huzair Awan, another computer prodigy 

There are many success stories. However, if you have observed most of these success stories are that of  individuals who hail from affluent families. Or if not rich, they are all financially stable to provide their children with good opportunities. What about the rest of Pakistan’s youth who do not even have access to schools and basic primary education?

Forty four percent children between the age of five and 16 are out of school. A figure that is hard to imagine, around 22.6 million children do not have access to education according to the Pakistan Education Statistics 2015-16.

So what are the bottlenecks in our society, in our government policies that do not give equal opportunities for everyone to excel? What does it take to become Najat Vallaud? How can a country give space and opportunity to individuals like her, from poor backgrounds to rise up and join the elites? How many years does Pakistan need to become a land of opportunities for everyone regardless of their social background?

Had Najat stayed on in Morocco would she have become an accomplished person? We cannot say for sure. What can we say and conclude with is that no country today is safe from political upheavals.

In our current world scenario, political turmoil is something that plagues many countries. The question is do those countries produce successful beings? How important is political stability for a country to produce polished accomplished young people? More than that how much of a role does nepotism, corruption, financial crisis play in making or breaking the citizens of a country?

Meet Hiba Jafri who dared to dream BIG here