11 women making the world a more inclusive place
An initiative formed by the social enterprise ChangeNOW and partners including UN Women and HeForShe, has recognised the work of women from around the world who are having a positive impact on their communities and influencing sustainability policies.
The Women Shaping Our Future initiative will provide the 25 nominees with the chance to give keynote speeches at an event in Paris in May, where they will speak to an audience of investors, corporates, media and policymakers.
The nominations are split into four categories: climate, biodiversity, resources and the human factor. At NADJA Media we are passionate about inclusive storytelling, so here we are highlighting 11 of the nominees who are working for better representation of communities that don’t often get to share the spotlight.
You can read about the other nominees and their incredible work here.
Omnia El Omrani, creating cleaner cities for young people and children
Omnia El Omrani is a doctor from Egypt, and was the first Youth Envoy to the President of COP27 in November 2022. A climate activist, she is dedicated to creating safer, cleaner and greener cities for children and young people. She is also a commissioner with the Lancet-Chatham House Commission on Post-COVID Planetary Health.
In a recent podcast she says the world needs to approach climate change like it did the covid pandemic. “We need the same seriousness, we need the same political will, and we can only do that when there is a health emergency. And climate change is no different.”
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Alice Aedy, sharing stories of people on the frontlines of climate and refugee crises
Alice Aedy is a British documentary photographer, filmmaker and CEO of Earthrise, a creative studio dedicated to telling the stories of people on the frontlines of the climate and refugee crises. Her work aims to shed light on topics like textile production, indigenous communities, activism, and breast cancer, but told with optimism and hope.
“When you speak of the war in Ukraine, in the same breath, don’t forget to mention refugees in Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan and beyond. Open your heart and avoid ‘selective sympathy’. Our solidarity should be endlessly expansive, our compassion should know no limits… It’s very likely in the next few decades we will all either be welcoming refugees into our communities, or become refugees ourselves. Today is Ukraine, tomorrow it could be me.”
Follow Alice Aedy at aliceaedy.com
Joycelyn Longdon, making action on the climate crisis more accessible and inclusive
Joycelyn Longdon is the founder of ClimateInColour, an online education platform and community aiming to make climate conversation more accessible and diverse.
The Cambridge PhD candidate, originally from Ghana and now based in the UK, investigates forest conservation from a justice perspective, and with ClimateInColour she aims to encourage discourse among the “climate curious.” In 2021 the platform launched The Colonial History of Climate, an online course exploring the interconnectedness of climate, science, and European Imperialism.
“I aim for this space to act as a launchpad for critical climate conversations, but also a space of hope, a space to make climate conversations more accessible and diverse and transform how people learn about, communicate and act on climate issues,” she says.
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Rhiana Gunn-Wright, creating intersectional policies for climate and equality
Rhiana Gunn-Wright co-authored the Green New Deal with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her policy work has been key to prioritising a zero-carbon economy in the US. She is the Climate Policy Director at the Roosevelt Institute thinktank, where she leads research at the intersection of climate policy, public investment, public power, and racial equity. An advocate for the creation of a “green bank” to support communities lacking access to clean water or transportation, her work shows how policy and activism can go hand-in-hand.
“Climate denial isn’t just denying that climate change is happening,” she says, “it’s also sticking our heads in the sand about how climate change affects our systems – including our banking and financial systems.”
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Tori Tsui, highlighting links between mental health and climate change
Tori Tsui is a climate justice activist and author of It’s Not Just You, a book about the links between climate change and mental health from a climate justice perspective. In 2019 she sailed to COP25 and has facilitated Sail for Climate Action, an initiative that enables youth activists from around the world to travel to climate conferences.
Originally from Hong Kong, Tsui now lives in the English city of Bristol. Her work emphasises intersectionality and inclusivity, demonstrating the need for marginalised communities to be better represented in sustainability policies.
Of writing It’s Not Just You, she says: “Writing a book was one of the most emotionally laborious things I’ve ever done. But it was also a labour of love, and a deeply meditative space to reflect on not only my work as a campaigner, but the movement as a whole.”
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Azadeh Farajpour Javazmi, developing local policies for food security
Azadeh Farajpour Javazmi is the Iranian founder of betterSoil, a startup that aims to improve soil quality for climate resilience and sustainable food production. The company connects the findings of scientists with the existing knowledge of farmers around the world to develops specific regional “recipes” for each climate. It is forming branches in Kenya and Malawi, and is already established in Iran.
“Depending on how soils are treated and managed, they can actively contribute to promoting human health and fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations,” she wrote in this 2022 article. “Increasing crop productivity and improving yield stability over years are the long term benefits of healthy soils, that contribute positively to food security and income generation, especially in the Global South. Thus they contribute to a world without poverty.”
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Charlot Magayi, reducing household pollution and energy poverty
In Kenya just 13.4% of the population have access to clean fuels for cooking. The majority of people are reliant on traditional stoves that generate a large amount of smoke, contributing to pollution and health problems.
Charlot Magayi is the founder of Mukuru Clean Stoves (MCS), which makes efficient, affordable stoves that use up to 60% less fuel, and produce up to 90% less toxic emissions. With this initiative she is aiming to reduce indoor air pollution in low-income countries to improve public health. “I want to change the world, but then again, we all do. So to be specific, I want to eradicate household air pollution and energy poverty.”
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Shriti Pandey, creating a low carbon building industry
With her company Strawcture Eco, Shriti Pandey produces technology that compresses crop waste and turns it into eco-friendly building panels, approved by the Indian government as a cheaper alternative to traditional materials. The technique is helping to reduce pollution while promoting fire resistance, thermal insulation, and other harmful effects of burning straw. It also aims to integrate agri-waste streams into the value chain to support the livelihood of Indian farmers.
She says: “Lightweight, low carbon footprint and better insulating construction technologies are the future of the real estate industry.”
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Adaora Oramah, amplifying the stories of pan-African women
Through AMAKA Studio, a digital publishing platform, Adaora Oramah is providing a space for pan-African women to share, monetise and amplify their stories. Whether it’s a photo series highlighting the higher rates of deportation Black immigrants face compared to other communities, or discussing Nigerian politics, the platform promotes inclusivity by empowering the people behind the stories.
In April 2022 the publication launched its first digital zine, with Oramah explaining: “In honour of the African female changemakers who are working to make our world a much safer, autonomous and authentic place, we’ve dedicated a digizine to highlight their work in changemaking, activism, and beyond.”
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Marine Calmet, fighting against destructive mining projects
Marine Calmet is an environmental lawyer who opposes mining projects in French Guiana and is a passionate advocate for the rights of nature and Indigenous communities. She is a lecturer and the president of Wild Legal, an organisation promoting environmental law. Her book Becoming Nature’s Guardians won the 2022 European Institute of Ecology Book Prize.
Speaking of the French government’s mining projects, she says: “Guyana alone accounts for 50% of French biodiversity and yet the list of destructive projects is long. Industrial mines and now pseudo green new projects like biomass plants and agrofuels threaten this ecosystem. Yesterday American Indian children were stopped and intimidated by French law enforcement in the village of Prosperité as they organised a peaceful picnic to protest against the installation of a hydrogen photovoltaic plant on their ancestral lands.
“We call on Emmanuel Macron to stop the rhetoric and actually act to protect the rainforests on territory he has responsibility for, before giving lessons elsewhere.”
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Sarah Mardini, campaigning for the rights of refugees
Sarah Mardini, from Syria, was a competitive swimmer for her country until the war forced her to flee along with her sister in 2015. The story of her journey to safety, which includes being smuggled onto a Greek island by boat, inspired the 2022 Netflix film The Swimmers.
Nardini has faced false charges of espionage and aiding illegal immigration by Greek authorities. She now lives in Germany and is a human rights activist campaigning for the rights of refugees, emphasising their basic right to a life with dignity.
In an interview for the 1000 Dreams project she said: “Something that the refugee journey brings you, is that you learn so many things about yourself that you didn’t even know you could do. After this journey, I think me and my sister can go to the moon and come back. I was lucky I made it safe. Some people couldn’t. Some people lost a lot. But for me and for my sister, we just learned what we are capable of, what we can and can’t take. And trust me, the Middle Eastern woman is very strong.”
Follow Sarah Mardini on Instagram