Meet Safa Al Jayoussi a leading environmental expert & Advocate in the Arab region , currently Ms. Safa is the Head of Climate & Energy Campaign in Arab World for IndyACT, Founder & Executive Director for IndyACT in Jordan with more than 8 years experience in the environmental field. Safa created & implemented major Climate & Energy Campaigns in the region one of her most successful campaigns was “Our Jordan is Not Nuclear” were she mobilized more than 40K people against the nuclear power plant through advocacy & offline actions and succeeded in getting the Parliamentary vote against it, and her recent advocacy and media campaign in COP21 to move the Arab league toward a binding legal agreement which was a huge successful campaign.
Safa is a green advocate, community worker, and Climate Change negotiations Observer under the UNFCCC since 2009 and also CAN Arab World Coordinator & she is a passionate public speaker and trainer.
AWM is honored to feature her among our inspirational women in this issue,
My Childhood was a very traditional one, I was raised up in Amman and my focus was on my education. I was also very active at school in the environmental and health committees’ trying to spread awareness, but the milestone was when I wanted to enroll in university; with many dynamics happening in my family, I decided to study something I am passionate about, I decided to study water management and environment. Everyone around me was wondering what is this and why do I have to study it and the career path that I will take after.
Since I entered the first class I knew this is what I should be advocating for, through my years in college I got engaged in too many campaigns including recycling as well as other parallel researches about climate change. Later on I got involved with international organizations like 350.org and WWF. Once I graduated in 2009 I took part in IndyACT team as a volunteer and shifted to green-peace where I founded and led the Arab world project for almost 5 years and now I am back to my roots in IndyACT where I am running regional campaigns.
Why is it important to raise awareness about the many environmental issues facing our world today? And what can we do to make a change?
It’s crucial, it’s no longer about only raising awareness it’s about our survival as humanity if we keep our current consumerism behaviors and industries all of humanity will be under threat, if we don’t act now there will be no planet B to move to. People should realize that nature is not a luxury we are part of nature and we cannot act like it doesn’t exist.
There are many, as a young woman bellow 30 in any field you face many obstacles as the work domain is mainly dominant by older men in Jordan and this is also in the local NGOs unfortunately. Working twice as hard as a man and get a lower salary just because you are not good enough in a man dominant system, moving toward international NGOs made me realize how much I was oppressed in the local NGOs, and how much I achieved and I can achieve because I was empowered, trained and giving authorities and responsibilities.
Another issue is that the field is new, when I first started it was not a priority, I did the very first climate change March in Amman in 2009 and everyone was wondering what it was about and why we care about what is happening in Copenhagen, again moving and taking part of UNFCCC I got much support from people like me in different countries, especially developing where we share knowledge and expertise but until now I am still getting a lot of obstacles in the national level unfortunately environmental activism is still not well known and supported.
I also want to give credit to few people in the regional / International field who were my support system in moving forward and without them I would’ve changed my career path. And being a green activist in a country like Jordan was very new to authorities being able to speak my mind about different environmental issues and take the streets in the form of non-violent direct actions and being all over the media was a blessing I never thought it will happen, regardless of some troubles I went through but I am happy that authorities didn’t try to stop me from doing the green activism and this is a huge progress in a developing country.
In your opinion what is the role of women in our societies in making a positive impact towards our environment and making a difference?
Without women actively getting in and fight for their rights the society won’t be balanced. I am happy I took part in activism paving the way for others and I get thrilled when I meet young girls that were inspired by my work. I feel overwhelmed when I train youth to mobilize and campaign, so far I trained over 500 Youth leaders from around the region and when I see them succeed in their campaigns and when they ask me to be their mentor I feel the huge responsibility yet I feel the happiness running in my veins when I see them running environmental campaigns especially in places environment is not a priority like Iraq, Syria and others.
What do you dream to accomplish?
My dreams are so big, one of my dreams was to contribute and campaign to end fossil fuels Era and it happened in COP21 were I was heavily involved. Now my dream is to end fossil fuels era and to move into Renewable energy decentralized system that take into consideration Environmental justice in the Arab world and in my beloved country Jordan.
I also want to expand IndyACT internationally not only regionally to be one of the leading NGOs in the world.
What advice you give young women who want to enter this field of study?
Do what you are passionate about regardless of what others tell you; seek advice and mentorship no matter how successful and old you are, asking for support is very important. Being famous in social media and media doesn’t make you an environmental activist, mobilizing people on the ground to change legislations and to support change is what makes you one.
Being a woman is a blessing not a curse and we present half of the society and we deserve to be treated this way. FOLLOW YOUR PASSION!
Check out Safa’s Blog here: www.sjayoussi.com
For Arabic translation