August 2016—Najlae Lachkar grew up in Morocco surrounded by the smell of motor oil from her neighbor’s car repair shop. From an early age, she was fascinated by cars and dreamed of some day becoming an auto mechanic.
Living in a conservative community, Lachkar’s family did not understand why she would want to pursue the male-dominated field of mechanics. Instead, they urged her to study to become a nurse, which is considered to be a more sensible profession for a woman.
With her nursing studies leaving her unfulfilled, Lachkar never gave up on her passion for cars. When she was unable to find a nursing job even after receiving her certification, she began looking for other prospects.
In 2014, Lachkar heard about a USAID-supported auto mechanic training program offered at the Al Amal Association, her neighborhood training center, and jumped at the opportunity. Only six girls signed up for the class and, not long into the program, four of the girls buckled under the social pressures imposed by their families and quit the class. This left Lachkar and her sister Rajae as the only girls left studying mechanics.
At first, Lachkar's family did not support her decision to become an auto mechanic, but when they learned about the considerable employment potential of the automotive sector, they eventually let go of the brakes. In the auto mechanic class, Lachkar not only gained the technical know-how, but also the practical soft skills necessary to find and secure employment.
After completing one year of training, Lachkar was selected for an internship at a major auto assembly plant. She is now interning at a local auto garage, where her clients regularly praise her for her attention to detail. Lachkar hopes to one day open her own car garage, which will not only service cars, but offer classes to help women become more knowledgeable and independent car owners.
“I dreamt for so long to study mechanics,” said Lachkar. “Thanks to USAID, my dream came true. Women can do exactly what men do and even more. We are smart and patient. I hope to have my own car repair shop, where women can be trained.”
USAID’s Favorable Opportunities to Reinforce Self-Advancement for Today’s Youth program helps to meet the needs of marginalized and at-risk urban youth by supporting associations as well as public training and placement centers to transform their services to broaden outreach, reduce dropout rates, promote self-confidence, and secure jobs. The program, which runs from 2012 to 2017, has benefited more than 12,000 Moroccan youth to date. The program is implemented by the International Organization for Migration.
Last updated: August 17, 2016