In early February of 2012, CNN published an article about Maha Haddioui, the first Arab woman to compete in a professional golf tournament. Maha Haddioui was born in Morocco and desires to pursue Olympic gold in Brazil. Golf will return as an Olympic sport in 2016 after an absence of more than century from the Olympic line-up. Haddioui’s life ambition is to follow in the footsteps of Morocco’s legendary middle-distance track and field athletes and bring Olympic glory back to her home nation. In an interview with CNN she stated
We have had some great Moroccan athletes like Hicham El Guerrouj that have made the country proud, and my dream is to follow in their footsteps.
Haddioui described her upbringing in the interview and stated that she was fortunate to be raised by a liberal family who did not insist on the traditional dress code. She was able to practice on a local golf course near their home in Agadir. Haddioui’s aptitude earned her support from Morocco’s ministry of sport. She then spent four years playing golf at Lynn University in Florida and earned accolades as a top-ranked NCAA Division II women’s golfer.
Her graduation from college in the United Stated coincided with the events of the Arab Spring last year. Haddioui stated her opinions about the events in Morocco stating
I am a big supporter for freedom and peaceful change. We had a couple of peaceful protests in Morocco which have led to major changes in the constitution of the country, but we have enjoyed our freedoms in Morocco for decades.
I think that Maha Haddioui is a great role model for Arab women. She represents an empowered generation of women able to work hard to pursue their dreams. Haddioui’s success also indicates the freedom that women possess in Morocco. King Mohammad VI has addressed women’s rights throughout his reign and has helped to decrease gender inequalities. Many of the gender divides and inequalities in Morocco continue out of tradition. Haddioui stated that she was lucky to be raised by a liberal family. Her family’s supported allowed her to practice her sport and enter avenues where women had been historically restricted. One hurdle that remains for Morocco women is to overcome family traditions and deep-seeded societal practices. The King supports increased rights for women but now it is time for society to embrace these ideas. Strong female figures like Maha Haddioui will certainly facilitate this process of acceptance.