On International Women’s Day, Greenpeace celebrates five brave women in the Middle East and North Africa who have embarked the journey of change and created an environmental revolution in their communities. In a community that sheds the light on men’s achievements, and provides them with many decision-making positions, we always forget the essential role of women in the environmental activism. These women have helped creating the environmental movement around the world, they believed in themselves and in their capability to create a positive change in their communities.
1. Zeinab Mokalled – A Model Project for Waste Recycling
An 83-year-old Lebanese woman is still active in the environmental field. In 1995, she established with a group of women an Association for waste Collection and Recycling in her village Arabsalim in South Lebanon. Her environmental journey began when she was a school teacher at Nabatiyeh High School; her village was suffering from a waste crisis, bad odors filled the streets, rats and rodents were all around the garbage. When Mokalled asked the officials to work on a solution, no one responded to her. So, she decided to start a recycling initiative. She asked for help from only the females in the village because she wanted to empower and secure jobs for them. Mokalled says that at that time, the presence of women in the field of work was not normal. Since then, she has been working in this area until her village became a model village in the management of waste in Lebanon, especially as the country suffers from a complex waste crisis.
- Rafia Inad “Um Kamar” – A Renewable Energy Engineer in Al Badia
Rafia Inad, from Al Badia, Jordan, known as “Um Kamar” or “Solar Mama”, is the first illiterate woman to give trainings in the use of solar energy engineering. Um Kamar has managed to provide electricity using solar energy to 80 homes in her remote village, “Mansheyet al Ghaath” after joining a training course in India where she learned about the advantages and benefits of solar energy. Um Kamar returned to her village with a great passion for empowering the woman in her village and bringing electricity to their houses after being in darkness for years. Um Kamar helped to install and operate the solar panels in the village and continues to do training courses for women in several villages in Jordan.
3- Amal Baker- Activist against pollution in Sfax
Amal is an environmental activist fighting against pollution in her city of Sfax-Tunis. At a time when Sfax is suffering from a serious air pollution crisis due to the presence of chemical factories, Amal was one of the first activists to call for an end to environmental pollution in her city. She is also a founding member of a health and environmental organization. She is now a university professor in the Faculty of Medicine, as well as an active member of the Educational Productivity Unit in the Faculty of Medicine of Sfax.
4- Khouloud Kahmi – activist working on environmental research under climate change.
An example of a teacher and researcher who uses scientific research to protect the environment and the health in her home country – Morocco. She is one of seven students around the world who have been selected for their special ability to present topics related to environment and climate change. She has joined the NASA agency to do research related to climate change. Kahmi is now a university professor, and devotes most of her time to protect the environment and the health in Morocco.
5- Chaymaa Omar- transformation of agricultural waste into energy
Chaymaa Omar, Egyptian woman, she decided at age of 27, to face the obstacles that occurred her after graduation and the lack of finding a job vacancy. She took a creative path by relying on itself to establish the company “Biomix” which turns the waste created by agriculture into energy.
Chaymaa works with a large number of farmers in the rural region of Egypt to help them maximize the benefits of organic waste produced by their livestock, to generate biogas, more friendly to the environment, and allow to reduce electricity rates after rising in oil prices in Egypt.
Chaymaa graduated from the University of Minia in 2012, in Chemical Engineering. Then she did a 3-month training where she gained experience in the field of renewable energy.