The Khmissa Awards for exceptional Moroccan women will be announced on 17 October at a glittering ceremony in Marrakech.
Nadia Bezad (pictured above), President of the Pan-African Organisation against AIDS, won the prize in 2008. This year, women representing the fields of social work, science, public administration, entrepreneurship and exceptional life stories.
'By honouring outstanding women, we are trying to say that Morocco is moving forward,' says Salwa Buhudo, of the organising committee, 'that we are urging everyone to have faith in that progress and take part in it'.
Moroccans at home and abroad are asked to consider the candidates and cast their vote by mail, internet, SMS or phone. Some of the candidates this year feature in the new category of 'exceptional life stories'. They are:
Zahra Al Basri Al Nokrashi - she's nearly 70, overcame a general lack of education, including illiteracy, and has become such an outstanding writer that one of her books is now being taught in Moroccan schools.
Izza Genini, Jewish film producer and director, who has been nominated in recognition of her interest in Moroccan cultural heritage. She produced Nawbat al Dhahab Wal Nour which highlights Arab Andalusian music as well as many other documentaries on music and Moroccan popular music.
Fadila Lenan has led an exceptional political life that has culminated in her holding the position of Minister of Culture and Youth in the Belgian government.
Writer Najat Al Hashimi concentrates on issues of culture and immigration.
Fatima Hal, owner of the Sultania restaurant in Paris (and well known at the Culinary Festival in Fez), is author of several books on Moroccan cuisine.
Each year there is a nine-member panel of politicans, members of the media and civil society to select candidates from the various recommendations they receive. At the finals on 17 October, timed to coincide with International Women's Day, a large audience is expected and the whole event will be broadcast by 2M.