The story of women fighting drought, discrimination

In Mediterranean and North Africa, award in Marseille

15 maggio, 13:48

(ANSAmed) - NAPLES, MAY 14 - Palestinian activist Rinad Hames is one of five women from North Africa and the Middle East named "Water Heroes" by the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) in Marseille. The center has launched an award for women who are working to find solutions to water shortage in their home country. "I grew up in a small Palestinian village, in a society that imposed rules on how a woman should live", said Hamed. "I am now a researcher in the sector of hydric resources and my objective is to be recognized at an international level and to continue to learn from new experiences around the world", she said. "In this way, stereotypes can be broken on what Palestinian women from rural areas are able to achieve".

The project on "Water Heroes" started in 2018, during a workshop on water dedicated to youths, called "Natural solutions for safe water in the Mediterranean". It continued over the past weeks with the 2019 workshop on the theme "Water and migrations" at the end of which young women researchers spoke about their stories.

"For a long time - representatives of the French institute explained - women represented a symbol of resilience. This is also true for the water sector. In the Middle East and North Africa, the world's regions with the highest hydric stress, women are playing their part in protecting water resources and fighting drought".

The debate was joined by young activists from the Mediterranean Youth for water (MedYWat), a community of researchers with professional experience in hydric resources in the Mediterranean created in 2017 and managed by CMI.

The debate revealed how professional achievements go hand in hand with the emancipation of women, which is still difficult.

"It is extremely beautiful to see women from my country who chose to work in the water sector to help solve the problem of water scarcity in the Mediterranean", said Portugal's Rita Amaral, one of the Water Heroes. "The next step is now to occupy leadership positions that have long been dominated by men".

"The most common mistake on women - added Zeineb Ettih, the head of the migration department of the Tunisian research institute on peace and conflicts - is that we are not as devoted to work as our male colleagues because our family obligations prevent us from being efficient. As a working mother, I have been able to excel in the workplace while being present in the family. It's a challenge that men don't have to face".

The other 'Waterheroes' are Tunisia's Ines Gasmi, a university researcher in agronomics and coordinator of the group MedYWat, and Morocco's Fatine Ezbakhe, a civil engineer specialized in hydric resources. (ANSAmed)
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