Jordan’s environmental record may be patchy but as one of the most climate change-vulnerable nations in the Middle East, it is taking climate change seriously. It has now also become the first Arab nation to include gender considerations as one of the adaptation priorities in the National communication on climate change, which will be submitted to the UNFCC. The significance of this is hard to gauge as it’s all just reports and writings right now, but it does entail the acknowledgment of “women’s effective role and allowing women’s empowerment to provide a vital springboard for addressing climate resilience.”
According to Ahmad Qatarneh, the secretary general of the Ministry of Environment, the department has also engaged the Jordanian National Commission for Women to integrate the environmental sector, with a focus on climate change, in the next Strategic Plan of Jordanian Women for 2011-2015. See the list of proposed actions and also our very own list of female eco-warriors from Jordan after the jump.
To help highlight the role of gender in climate change, I’ve scoured the archives for some amazing green work coming from the women of Jordan. These include young campaigners such as Safa Al Jayoussi and Alisa Ananbeh, the Bedouin solar engineers Rafi’a and Seiha and the permaculture expert Nadia Lawton. The lovely people at LivingWell Magazine have also recently profiled a recycling entrepreneur called Ghadeer Abed Al Jawad from Jordan.
Safa’ Al Jayoussi
Safa’ Al Jayoussi, who is the outreach officer at the Jordan Green Building Council, also volunteers with IndyACT, Greenpeace Jordan and has supported various 350.org campaigns and green initiatives in Jordan. As part of her work with Greenpeace Jordan, she has been campaigning against the country’s plans to go nuclear. “There are huge opportunities in Jordan to invest in renewable clean energy, we don’t want a second Fukushima to prove that this project is wrong,” she explains. “Nuclear power plants are unsafe and slight incidents can cause huge irreversible damages that Jordan can’t handle. Plus Jordan has water scarcity issues and cooling the plant will be impossible.”
Alisa Ananbeh took part in a US funded five-week programme to help young people from the Middle East deal with environmental problems. “Jordan’s main problem is the lack of acceptance of our environmental issues,” she told Green Prophet. “By educating the youth and demonstrating positive ways to protect the environment, I hope we can have a long-term impact. Therefore I believe it’s important to raise the awareness amongst people not only in the cities but in the villages too. That way, other issues such as lack of water, waste management and environmental pollutions will be jointly solved by Jordanians.”
Nadia Lawton, along with her husband Geoff Lawton, is a permaculture teacher eager to spread the word about the advantages of permaculture in the Middle East. “Permaculture made total common sense to me,” she told Green Prophet, “it also fitted with my life ethics a a Muslim.” Nadia is optimistic about the future. Over the years, she states she has seen big changes with more people – from locals to royal families- taking permaculture seriously. In fact, Nadia says she is certain that Permaculture “holds all the answers for food, water and sustainable development [problems in the Middle East] and it fits perfectly with the culture.”
Solar Engineers Rafia and Seiha
Two Jordanian Bedouin women took part in a six-month course at a unique college in India where they were trained as solar engineers. The two women, who are illiterate and have never been employed, were carefully selected by the elders in the village to attend the course at Barefoot college in India which helps poor rural communities become more sustainable. “We’ve been taught about solar energy and solar panels and how to generate light,” explains Rafi’a Abdul Hamid, a mother of four who lives in a tent in the deserts of south Jordan. “Hopefully when we return we will be able to teach others and use everything we’ve learnt here in India to improve our village.”
Ghadeer Abed Al Jawad
This 35-year-old forerunner of the Jordanian green movement is the proud founder of the start-up recycling business, Recycling City, which collects recyclable material. “Some people in my community think that I’m doing something really good and useful, but others do not understand my work,” she says. In addition to selling the waste products, Ghadeer uses some of the material—mainly cloth—to make handicrafts. The recycling entrepreneur hopes that, through the sale of these repurposed products, she will be able to change people’s notion of trash: “I hope from the bottom of my heart that the environmental movement helps the coming generation to understand how important recycling is,” she told LivingWell Magazine Jordan.
For more on Jordan and climate change see: