Najat Vallaud-Belkacem

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (French pronunciation: [naʒat valo bɛlkasɛm]; Arabic: نجاة فالو بلقاسم; born 4 October 1977) is a former French lawyer[2] and politician of the Socialist Party (PS) who was the first French woman to serve as Minister of Education, Higher Education, and Research in the governments of successive Prime Ministers Manuel Valls and Bernard Cazeneuve from 2014 until 2017.[3] Since 2020, she has been the director of the One Campaign in France.[4]

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem
Minister of National Education, Higher Education and Research
In office
27 August 2014  10 May 2017
PresidentFrançois Hollande
Prime MinisterManuel Valls
Bernard Cazeneuve
Preceded byBenoît Hamon
Succeeded byJean-Michel Blanquer
(National Education)
Frédérique Vidal
(Higher Education and Research)
Minister of Women's Rights, Minister of City Affairs, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports
In office
2 April 2014  25 August 2014
PresidentFrançois Hollande
Prime MinisterManuel Valls
Preceded byherself (Women's Rights)
François Lamy (City Affairs)
Valérie Fourneyron (Sports)
Succeeded byMarisol Touraine (Women's Rights)
Patrick Kanner (City, Youth affairs and Sports)
Minister of Women's Rights
In office
16 May 2012  31 March 2014
PresidentFrançois Hollande
Prime MinisterJean-Marc Ayrault
Preceded byCatherine Vautrin
Government's spokesperson
In office
16 May 2012  31 March 2014
PresidentFrançois Hollande
Prime MinisterJean-Marc Ayrault
Preceded byValérie Pécresse
Succeeded byStéphane Le Foll
Conseillère générale of the Rhône department
Assumed office
16 March 2008
Personal details
Born (1977-10-04) 4 October 1977[1]
Rif, Bni Chiker, Nador, Morocco
Nationality Moroccan
Political partySocialist Party
(m. 2005)
ChildrenLouis-Adel Vallaud
Nour-Chloé Vallaud
Alma materSciences Po

Early life and education

Second in a family of seven children, Vallaud-Belkacem was born on 4 October 1977[5] in the Moroccan countryside in Bni Chiker, a village near Nador in the Rif region.[1] Her grandmothers were respectively Spanish and Algerian.[6] She spent her early years growing up on her grandparents' farm.[7]

In 1982 Vallaud-Belkacem joined her father, a construction worker, with her mother and elder sister Fatiha.[8] From then on, she grew up in a poor neighborhood of Abbeville, a town in northern France, and then in a suburb of Amiens.[9] She got French nationality at 18.[10]

Vallaud-Belkacem graduated from the Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Paris Institute of Political Studies) in 2002. At the Institut she met Boris Vallaud, whom she married on 27 August 2005.[11]

Political career

Career in local politics

Vallaud-Belkacem joined the Socialist Party in 2002 and the team of Lyon mayor Gérard Collomb in 2003, leading actions to strengthen local democracy, the fight against discrimination, promotion of citizen rights, and access to employment and housing.

Elected to the Regional Council of Rhone-Alpes in 2004, she chaired the Culture Commission, resigning in 2008. In 2005, she became adviser to the Socialist Party. In 2005 and 2006 she was a columnist for the cultural programme C'est tout vu on Télé Lyon Municipale alongside Stéphane Cayrol.

Career in national politics

In February 2007 Vallaud-Belkacem joined Ségolène Royal's campaign team as a spokeswoman, alongside Vincent Peillon and Arnaud Montebourg.

In March 2008 Vallaud-Belkacem was elected conseillère générale of the Rhône department in the cantonal elections with 58.52% of the votes in the second round, under the banner of the Socialist Party in the canton of Lyon-XIII. From 2008 until 2014, she also served as a councillor of the city of Lyon, responsible for major events, youth and community life.

Vallaud-Belkacem served as Royal's spokesperson again in 2009 for the 2011 French Socialist Party presidential primary, this time alongside Delphine Batho.[12] When François Hollande became the party's candidate to run for president in 2012, he appointed Vallaud-Belkacem his campaign spokeswoman.[13]

On 16 May 2012, Vallaud-Belkacem was appointed by President Hollande as Minister of Women's Rights and spokeswoman for the government in the Ayrault government and later in the First Valls Government. In the First Valls Government, she subsequently served as Minister of City Affairs (2 April 2012 to 25 August 2014) and Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports (2 April 2012 to 25 August 2014).

In her capacity as minister, Vallaud-Belkacem made headlines in 2012 when she introduced anti-sexism courses with presentations on stereotyping, inappropriate language, wage disparity and domestic violence for her fellow cabinet members.[14] That same year, she announced that she wanted to abolish prostitution in France and in Europe;[15] following her initiative, the National Assembly later voted in favour to give France some of the most restrictive legislation on prostitution in Europe.[16] In 2013, she declared as officially revoked an old bylaw requiring women in Paris to ask permission from city authorities before "dressing as men", including wearing trousers (with exceptions for those "holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse").[17]

In late 2014, shortly after her appointment as Minister of Education, Higher Education and Research, opinion polls ranked Vallaud-Belkacem only second in popularity among French politicians, after Alain Juppé.[18] In early 2015, the New York Times described her as "one of the rising stars" within her party.[19] By the end of Hollande's presidency, she was one of the few officials who had been a member of his various governments throughout his time in office.[20]

After 15 years in public office, Vallaud-Belkacem decided to take a break from politics in June 2017. Despite speculation, she announced that she would not seek the leadership of the Socialist Party at the Aubervilliers Congress in 2018.[21]

Career outside politics

In March 2018, Vallaud-Belkacem joined research and polling firm Ipsos as CEO of its Global Affairs division.[22] The department carries out research (on impact, public policy evaluation…) that helps international institutions, NGOs, international foundations and other actors which act in the global public interest better make decisions.

After 2 years at Ipsos, she announced in 2020 that she would be joining NGO the One Campaign as director for France.

In addition to her work with Ipsos, Vallaud-Belkacem launched and co-directs the Gender Equality and Public Policy programme at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.[23] She also heads Raison de Plus, a collection of progressive essays published by Fayard.[24]

In 2020, Vallaud-Belkacem was appointed as an affiliated professor at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Ben Guerir, Morocco.[25]

Other activities

Political positions

Vallaud-Belkacem supports having the French government force Twitter to filter out hate speech that is illegal under French law, such as speech that is homophobic.[27] Regarding same-sex marriage in France, she has stated that its legalisation is a matter of "historic progress".[28][29]

In 2016, Vallaud-Belkacem was publicly criticized by Prime Minister Manuel Valls after she spoke out against the government's local decrees that ban women from wearing full-body swimsuits – so-called burkinis– on the beach, arguing the ban was “dangerous for national cohesion.”[30]

Personal attacks

In 2015, former president Nicolas Sarkozy was criticized for appealing to racist sentiments when he, without using explicitly racist words, singled out the two non-white female ministers – Vallaud-Belkacem and Christiane Taubira – in a largely white government for charges of gross incompetence.[31]

Personal life

Vallaud-Belkacem describes herself as a "non-practicing Muslim".[32]


  • Vallaud-Belkacem, Najat (2012). Raison de plus!. Paris: Fayard. ISBN 9782213666440. OCLC 793485794.
  • Vallaud-Belkacem, Najat (2017). La vie a plus d'imagination que toi. Paris: Bernard Grasset. ISBN 9782246863847. OCLC 974793443.


  1. News, Morocco World (2 September 2015). "France: Moroccan-Born Myriam El Khomri Appointed Minister of Labor". Morocco World News. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  2. Angelique Chrisafis (June 21, 2012), Interview: Najat Vallaud-Belkacem – the new face of France The Guardian.
  3. "France's new education minister prompts rightwing protests". The Guardian. 27 August 2014.
  4. Abel Mestre and Sylvia Zappi (May 18, 2020), Najat Vallaud-Belkacem : « C’est une forme de nouvelle lutte des classes qui se joue » Le Monde.
  5. Retrieved 13 April 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. "Najat Vallaud Belkacem, du Rif aux bancs de Sciences Po". Franceinfo (in French). 30 November 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  7. Aida Alami (February 20, 2015), A French Education Minister Who Knows Immigrants’ Struggles New York Times.
  8. Jacques Bertoin, "Najat Belkacem, la vie en rose",, 18.
  9. Aida Alami (February 20, 2015), A French Education Minister Who Knows Immigrants’ Struggles New York Times.
  10. Angelique Chrisafis (June 21, 2012), Interview: Najat Vallaud-Belkacem – the new face of France The Guardian.
  11. "".
  12. Jean-Michel Normand (March 17, 2009), Deux porte-parole pour Ségolène Royal Le Monde.
  13. Aida Alami (February 20, 2015), A French Education Minister Who Knows Immigrants’ Struggles New York Times.
  14. Vicky Buffery (October 26, 2012), French ministers in classroom for anti-sexism lessons Reuters.
  15. Angelique Chrisafis (September 24, 2012), How prostitution became France's hottest social issue The Guardian.
  16. Nicholas Vinocur and Emile Picy (December 4, 2013), French lower house backs new prostitution law Reuters.
  17. "It Is Now Legal for Women to Wear Pants in Paris". Time. New York. 4 February 2013.
  18. Elsa Freyssenet (September 4, 2014), La fusée Vallaud-Belkacem Les Échos.
  19. Aida Alami (February 20, 2015), A French Education Minister Who Knows Immigrants’ Struggles New York Times.
  20. Cédric Pietralunga (December 6, 2016), Remaniement : Bruno Le Roux remplace Bernard Cazeneuve au ministère de l’intérieur Le Monde.
  21. Cécile Amar (3 January 2018). "Najat Vallaud-Belkacem ne briguera pas la tête du PS : "Je ne veux pas d'une vie réduite à la politique"". L'Obs. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  22. "Najat Vallaud-Belkacem embauchée chez Ipsos". Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  23. "Certificat Égalité femmes-hommes (École d'affaires publiques)".
  24. "Raison de plus - Une collection dirigée par Najat Vallaud-Belkacem". Fayard. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  25. Crétois, Jules (19 June 2020). "Najat Vallaud-Belkacem rejoint l'Université Mohammed VI Polytechnique de Marrakech – Jeune Afrique". (in French). Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  26. [Advisory Council: Najat Vallaud-Belkacem] Tent Partnership for Refugees.
  27. Farago, Jason (2 January 2013). "In praise of Vallaud-Belkacem, or why not to tolerate hate speech on Twitter". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  28. "France and gay marriage: Pink pride in Paris - The Economist". The Economist.
  29. Tom Heneghan (January 6, 2013), France's Hollande escalates row with Catholics over gay marriage Reuters.
  30. Hortense Goulard (August 25, 2016), Manuel Valls scolds minister for criticizing burkini ban Reuters.
  31. Brian Love (May 13, 2015), France's Sarkozy accused of pandering to racist sentiments Reuters.
  32. "Muslim Minister in French Government Calls for Twitter to Censor Tweets that Don't Respect Human Rights". Retrieved 24 January 2013.
Political offices
Preceded by
Benoît Hamon
Minister of National Education
Succeeded by
Jean-Michel Blanquer
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