The Inspiring Story of Shayma in Acting Against Climate Change and Gender Stereotypes
31 July 2023
A young female engineer has dedicated her passion and time to work with her young peers on climate action in her city.
Erbil, Iraq – Shayma Faramarz is a 26-year-old engineer who holds a degree in water resources engineering, working with Hasar Organization, a local organization led by youth and volunteers who are working together to act against climate change in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In her field, Shayma has faced some of the gender-related harmful social norms affecting girls and women in the country, “one of the foremost challenges that females encounter in Iraq is the perception that roles in certain fields such as engineering and management are better suited for males,” says Shayma.
The community perception and established stereotypes have not stopped Shayma and her peers to actively engage in designing and implementing projects that contribute to efforts to act against climate change. Capitalizing on her academic background and self-confidence and building upon her eagerness to learn and the supportive environment, she joined the project as a volunteer, eventually assuming the role of project manager for water recycling.
“At Hasar, female leaders have overcome these stereotypes, serving as evidence that such biases are unsupported. As a female leader myself, I have defied these traditional beliefs and I am delighted to be a part of the water crisis solution,” expresses Shayma with assertiveness. Supported by UNICEF, Hasar is recycling wastewater from certain locations in Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, to be used for various purposes and to preserve underground drinking water resources. This is where Shayma’s knowledge, passion and determination has led to the provision of a local solution to some of the water-crisis-related issues in the country through an enabled environment that allows young people especially females to explore their passion and skills in critical fields such as the water sector - “I have a lot of passion for working in the water sector after realizing the urgency of the water crisis in Iraq and I want to be part of minimizing this threat on the population.”
The ambition for young people is to go beyond passive exposure and participation; they aspire to be given real opportunities to get involved in strategic decision-making for the issues that concern them and their country. “When it comes to young people, the most significant challenge is that although youth are recruited in the projects, they are often not given the opportunity to assume managerial roles or make strategic decisions,” explains Shayma. Active participation of young people, females specifically in such roles is key to offering sustainable and context-specific solutions that minimize the risks resulting from climate change.
Shayma summarizes her passion for the project with a message for her community - “My message to the young individuals and my fellow female colleagues that are driven to address water crises and climate change, I would encourage them to persist and never surrender. Our planet, particularly our country, relies on the support of its community, and this community needs its youth to initiate actions aimed at solving pressing challenges.”