Celebrating International Women’s Day in the Middle East

Yemeni women in solar energyYemeni women receive award for their role in bringing solar energy to Yemen

This year’s International Women’s Day not only illustrates the numerous issues facing women, but also celebrates the many achievements women have made worldwide – including those pertaining to environmental or green projects in the Middle East.

While well-known personalities are often highlighted each year, the achievements of ordinary women such as the Yemeni Girls who are using solar power to bring light to post revolution darkness in their country also deserve a special mention. We have highlighted a small handful of those who are making a difference in our region, but we know there are many, many more.portrait of UAE national woman

Dr. Nawal al-Hosany

Women hailing from Islamic countries are often required to go the extra mile to be involved in green projects due to living in countries where male dominance is the standard norm.

One noteworthy example is Abu Dhabi’s Dr. Nawal al-Hosany, who plays a leading role at Masdar City just outside of Abu Dhabi.

Dr. al-Hosany, a leading figure in the environmental movement in the Middle East, was recently interviewed by Green Prophet . During this interview, she told Green Prophet that when it comes to dealing with environmental topics like climate change and energy:

“Women form the majority of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty in the world. And it’s people in poverty that shoulder the brunt and burden of climate change. The rural poor – especially women – depend on the environment to provide basic needs, such as food, shelter and fuel. The harsh impacts of climate change on these women are interlinked to social and cultural conditions.”

She went on to say that women living in her region “have a social, economic and moral responsibility to be equal participants in the fight against climate change. And one way we can immediately help is to encourage women to pursue careers in math and science, where we can advance the renewable, clean-tech and sustainability sectors.”

Easkey Britton surfs Iranian waves

Easkey Britton surfs the Iranian waves

International women environmentalists who visit and live in Middle Eastern countries also have to go further to make their presence acceptable in these countries.

One such woman, Irish environmentalist Easkey Britton, turned a few heads recently in the Islamic Republic of Iran when she went there to encourage Iranian women to be more involved in environmental projects such as surfing the Iranian waves.

Ms. Britton, who has taken her surfing activities to countries all over the world, told a BBC reporter that she had to be properly attired, including wearing a traditional head covering: “The moment we landed, people were incredibly welcoming and Iran has an amazing heritage. Yes, as women we had to have our heads covered and it was incredibly hot.”

One doesn’t have to go surfing to places like Iran in order to “make waves.” In Dubai, for example, women are now involved in introducing a unique form of yoga, Birkram Yoga to “turn up the heat one posture at a time.” This includes Mona Banki, a teacher at Dubai’s Club Stretch, who branched out in 2010 to initiate Bikram Yoga Middle East in Tecom, Dubai.

We wish all these brave and innovative ladies well, and hope they will go from strength to strength with their great green work.

Read more on women involved in unique green projects in the Middle East:

Interview with Masdar’s Director of Sustainability – Nawal al-Hosany

Yemeni Girls Solar Power Post-Revolution Darkness

Dubai’s Bikram Yoga Turns Up the Heat One Posture at a Time

The Story of Hijjar’; Muslim women and Water Conservation

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One thought on “Celebrating International Women’s Day in the Middle East”

  1. JTR says:

    Women should be honored 365 days a year by giving them the legally protected right to decide if and when to birth their children. Then, while safely recycling 100% of all human-generated waste materials, the human population would reduce and stabilize and the Earth would return to its natural order, no more radical climate change, no more ecocide and extinction, but human beings and this planet living in peace and balance.

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