Pioneering Girl Guides: Widad Mazrag, Morocco
As part of Women's History Month in March and International Women's Day on the 8th, we are conducting a series of interviews with interesting and inspirational women in travel.
From adventurers to conservationists, guides to rangers, there are some amazing women out there, and here's what one of the most inspirational female guides in Morocco had to say.
How did you get started as a guide?
Originally, I was actually working in the education sector and engaging with large universities such as NYU. I had finished my Masters and PhD in English studies, and so was spending this time pursuing academia. Then, in 2015, an opportunity came up for me to take an English exam that would allow me to guide. I passed the exam, and the rest is history really! I wasn’t ever planning on being a tour guide, but now that I am one, I love being able to meet so many new people and create so many wonderful memories for them.
Have you faced any challenges whilst working as a female guide in Morocco?
Although there are still fewer female guides as compared to male ones across Morocco, there is a growing number of female guides working in the larger cities such as Rabat and Casablanca. Surprisingly, I wouldn’t say I’ve really faced many challenges whilst working as a tour guide. I may have just been extremely lucky, but in my experience a lot of clients actually prefer to be with a female guide – especially if they are women themselves. In general though, it’s not really challenging at all if you’ve built up your reputation.
What’s been your most memorable experience whilst guiding?
There isn’t really one specific experience that sticks out in my mind, but I absolutely love guiding groups of older travellers. It’s always challenging, as they have needs that younger travellers may not necessarily have, but it’s always a lot of fun. You always learn something from older travellers, and these life lessons tend to stay with you. Sometimes, it even goes beyond just guiding and some travellers will ask to visit your hometown and even meet your family. Making these sorts of connections with the travellers I’m guiding is really special to me.
Who is the most inspirational woman in your life?
Definitely my mother! I really believe you learn from those closest to you in life, and my mother taught me not just how to be a woman, but also how to be a warrior and fight for my own survival, both within the tourism industry and beyond.
What advice would you give to other women in Morocco on breaking through barriers?
I’m a big advocate for learning about history. I truly believe that history can tell the future, and all time periods are interconnected in some way or another. When it comes to being a tour guide, I feel that you become a real ambassador for your country – which is no easy job! My biggest piece of advice would be to never stop learning – soak up all the information you can, so that you can be a great ambassador for both Morocco, and women in general.