1. How did participating in Legacy’s program impact your life?
Participating in Legacy’s program changed my life. It opened me to a new world I did not know existed, which – and I realized this long after the program – was meant for me. The program groomed me into who I wanted to be : a successful change maker. It gave me the chance to build a long lasting network and professional relationships as well as the confidence I needed to trust myself. It taught me how to turn my desire to change the world into a concrete impact-full project. But even more that that it helped me discover my calling and this is priceless.
2. It has been two years since you participated in the Legislative Fellows Program, what can you see now about yourself, the program, or your country that you didn’t see before participating?Two years later I know now for sure that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I know that I have the will and the ability be change maker, that it is actually possible to impact my country [Morocco] and that there is room for me to do it.
3. What was the inspiration behind your project?
The inspiration behind my project is the combination of multiple things : the fact that I am a communication person and have always been interested in its impact on society, that I have a background in political sciences and had already worked with political institutions before, I have always wanted to be useful to my community and impact it in a meaningful way. But I guess what really inspired me is to see how the Congress worked in terms of accountability and transparency, I saw something that I consider as a “best-practice” and I felt the urge to share its benefits with my country.
4. When it comes to women in politics in the Middle East what do you think is needed in the future?
I am North African – I don’t consider Morocco as part of the Middle East as I think we have more in common with Spain or Senegal than with Quatar for instance – but we do share some of the same issues as for women’s role in politics and youth participation. Both those groups are widely needed in the decision making process. How can a country make fair ruling decision when “half of the sky” as well as tomorrow’s leaders are not part of it? How can you shape the future of a country without taking into account the diversity of the population who will have to abide by rules that are made without consulting them? How is it possible to build a serene and stable nation based on the political marginalization of more the majority of its population? This is why the Arab Spring happened, people couldn’t bear anymore to not be taken into account in the decision making process. There is no possible democracy without the political representation of every gender, class of age etc.
5. You just won the State Department’s Alumni Impact Award for your project, and previously were awarded the Access Tech Innovation Prize. What does it mean to you to win these awards? How do you plan to utilize these successes?
I won the Acces Tech Innovation Prize in the Access Facebook Award category in 2012 and more recently the 2014 Alumni Impact Award from the U.S. Department of State. Both those prizes I did not expect at all. Of course I applied for them but I never really thought I’d win. It is an incredible feeling when something you’ve created, alone in your head, is seen by someone else and it actually makes them believe in it. Even to the point that they give you money to realize it! I used the money from the Access Prize to implement my project which led me to win the 2014 AIA which I hope we’ll offer me the opportunity to meet and discuss with people that will be willing to help me develop my project further – in Morocco and the region – and who knows maybe win another prize or help me find a job in the field 😉
6. You yourself are an example of a women leader, driven to make a difference, what motivates you to keep working for change?
I find my motivation in everybody else’s successes, it makes me believe that it is possible to change the world, it makes me feel part of a community of change makers all around the world. I also find my motivation in the award I won and the fact that others believed in me and were there to help me contribute to make the world a more suitable place for everyone. But over all I find my inspiration in what I feel deep in me i.e.: I believe that there is no other way for me to lead my life than by trying to impact my environment, I need to feel that I am not on earth for no reason, that I am here to accomplish something, that there is a meaning for me to be alive.” – Nadia Rabbaa
Learn more about the Legislative Fellows Program.
Professional Fellows inspire each other
Imagine the feeling of a room of 240 young,driven leaders from 50 different countries: The energy is electric!
Transparency in Government
Abdelsalam works with U.S. organizations working to improve transparency and disclosure in politics.
Learn more about these inspiring young professionals at the Legislative Fellows Program blog