A group of Moroccan women is breaking barriers in the tech industry, thanks to a unique mentorship program facilitated by Israeli professionals. Safaa, a 25-year-old finance professional in Morocco, had dreams of transitioning into the field of information technology, but lacked guidance and support. That’s until she discovered FemForward, an Israeli career-advancement program designed to empower women in junior high-tech roles.
Safaa’s experience with FemForward has been transformative. Through the program, she was paired with a mentor who has helped her navigate the path to her desired job in the IT sector. She now has a clear roadmap outlining the steps needed to make her career transition.
FemForward, founded by Rachel Wagner Rosenzweig and Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, offers women the tools, network, and personal mentorship necessary to advance in the tech industry. Since 2020, over 100 Israeli women have participated in the program, with almost half experiencing immediate salary raises or job promotions after completing the three-month program.
Rosenzweig and her team aim to expand the program’s reach beyond Israel. They worked tirelessly to bring FemForward to the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. The first location chosen was Morocco, with plans to introduce the program in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain soon.
The program’s expansion into Morocco was a collaborative effort involving the US Embassy, the Jerusalem Development Authority, and the UAE-Israel Business Council. Together, they created FemForward MENA from the ground up, recruiting Moroccan participants and organizing an in-person seminar in Casablanca.
The seminar, condensed into three days, featured workshops led by Israeli and local experts in mindset, communication skills, and navigating difficult workplace discussions. The participating women ranged from computer vision engineers to business analysts. Despite diverse backgrounds, language barriers, and cultural differences, the program fostered an incredible sense of connection and solidarity among the participants.
FemForward MENA also emphasized cultural exchange, organizing activities such as a cultural walking tour led by the Moroccan participants and a night of Moroccan and Israeli dancing. These experiences further deepened the understanding and appreciation between Israeli and Moroccan women, dispelling stereotypes and fostering warm relationships.
The impact of the program was evident as participants met online for one-on-one mentorship sessions and weekly group workshops after the Casablanca seminar. The Moroccans then traveled to Israel to continue their learning journey. The North African Jewish Heritage Center in Jerusalem provided a beautiful setting for further discussions and networking.
Safaa, like many others, discovered FemForward through social media platforms like Facebook. She was thrilled at the opportunity to discover Israeli culture and build connections in Israel. Through the program, she developed essential soft skills and learned to advocate for herself during negotiations, challenges often faced by women.
The success of the mentorship program can be attributed to the genuine relationships formed between mentors and mentees, transcending cultural and religious backgrounds. Maissa Ballout, an Israeli Christian Arab and mentor in FemForward, highlighted the power of mentorship in bridging divides and promoting solidarity among women.
For Moroccan participant Selma El Antari, the program provided her with valuable insights and guidance to enhance her business. As the co-founder of a company producing certified kosher argan oil and almond butter, El Antari worked closely with her mentor on developing her business plan and negotiating with potential investors.
The FemForward mentorship program has proven to be a priceless experience for the Moroccan women involved, opening doors and empowering them to excel in their tech careers. By fostering cross-cultural connections and providing guidance, FemForward is helping to shape the future of female leadership in the region.
1. How does FemForward help women in tech?
FemForward provides women in junior high-tech positions with tools, networks, and personal mentorship to advance their careers in the industry.
2. How many Israeli women have participated in the FemForward program?
Since 2020, over 100 Israeli women have participated in FemForward.
3. What benefits do participants gain from the FemForward program?
Almost half of FemForward participants experience immediate salary raises or job promotions after completing the three-month program.
4. Which countries are FemForward expanding to in the MENA region?
The program has expanded to Morocco, and they have plans to introduce it in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
5. How did the program foster cross-cultural exchange?
The program organized activities such as cultural walking tours, dancing nights, and workshops to encourage exchange and build connections between Israeli and Moroccan women.