By Aaliyah Gohir

COP28 is the 28th United Nations Climate Change conference and is being held from 30 November until 12 December 2023 in Dubai – in fact our CEO, Baroness Shaista Gohir, will be attending this year!

Islam encourages us to look after the world and to make it a better place for future generations; the notion of Khalifa in the Quran means that us humans have been entrusted to support and preserve all of the earth and what is in it. Faith is something Memona Hussain, a PhD student in Applied Ecopsychology with Project Nature Connect, has found to be an important role when researching why climate activists are driven to do the work they do; she interviewed over 60 Muslim women on the topic which you can read more about here.

With COP28 taking place, it is a good opportunity to bring attention to Muslim women / women of Muslim heritage* who are doing vital work to address the issues of environmental sustainability and the climate crisis. Here are six climate activists doing vital work to protect the world!

Fatima Ibraham (UK)

Fatima is a climate activist who is a co-founder and co-director of Green New Deal UK which launched recently in August 2021; they work as a young movement with the initiative to fight for transformation of the economy so more can be done to stop the climate crisis and build a world we can thrive in. Around 18 years of age, Fatima spoke to other youth campaigners and realised that climate activism was her passion so she could fight to protect the world for future generations to come – you can hear more about her journey in this video. Much of her work involves campaigning and building solidarity with international movements. She was also a Global Citizen Prize winner in 2020!

Sophia Kiani (US)

Sophia is a 21-year-old Iranian-American climate activist who became the youngest United Nations advisor in US history. She became interested in climate change during her time at middle school in Tehran when one night the stars were obscured by smog. Since then, she has founded Climate Cardinal which is an organisation dedicated to translating climate information into different languages so the information is more accessible for others. She is currently studying Science, Technology and Society at Stanford university alongside her climate activism in which she supports various climate youth movements and groups. In November 2022, she was names in Forbes 30 under 30 and you can also find her in this years BBC’s 100 women!

Rumaitha Al Busaidi (Oman)

Rumaitha was also acknowledged in BBC’s 100 women 2023 list. She empowers Arab women to get involved with tackling climate change and has a TED Talk (link) with more than 1 million views which encourages women and girls to be a part of the solution to climate change since they are especially impacted. Due to her expertise, she has positions on the Arab Youth Council for Climate Change and the Environment Society of Oman.

Sumini (Indonesia) 

Sumini’s work against climate change takes place in her local community in Indonesia. She focuses on tackling deforestation and wildlife poaching, while empowering women along the way. Strict patriarchal structures remain prevalent in the province of Indonesia where Sumini works, however this has not stopped her from leading an all-female Village Forest Management Unit. She leads a team of women into the forests and looks for signs of illegal activity (which she finds is mostly carried out by men). She removes animal traps, posts warning signs and reports concerns to the government.

Elham Youssefian (US)

Elham is a human rights lawyer who is blind and advocate for climate change activism, particularly regarding the inclusion of people with disabilities in the fight against the climate crisis. She holds an important position in the International Disability Alliance (IDA) as the Inclusive Humanitarian Action and Disaster Risk Advisor in which she coordinates strategy to promote and support the effective enforcement of disability-inclusive DRR and climate action. She is also in this years BBC’S 100 Women list!

Basima Abdulrahman (Iraq)

Basima has over 12 years of experience in sustainable development and is the founder and CEO of KESK, the first greentech company in Iraq. Many Iraqi towns had been destroyed after the so-called Islamic state took over parts of the country, but Basima used her masters in structural engineering to found KESK which is dedicated to green building using energy efficient technologies and materials. She is a board member for the World Economic Forum Foundation and also made it on BBC’s 100 Women list!

*We use the description of Muslim heritage (in addition to Muslim women) as well because Muslim names have been selected to identify potential Muslim women, which may not be accurate because faith is a personal matter.

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