Jamali co-founded the Women’s Society Against Environmental Pollution with 74-year-old Mahlagh Mallah a decade ago because they were concerned with Iran’s environmental problems. Today, the group has more than 2,500 members and publishes a bilingual journal, Cry of the Earth.
Although Iran does have environmental laws on the books, eight years of war with Iraq, political isolation, and economic sanctions kept environmental concerns on the backburner, writes Brooks. As a result, the city of Tehran boasts some of the worst air pollution in the world and mountainous regions of Iran are losing indigenous species.
Now that Iran’s political situation is more stable, Jamali wants to spread the word about protecting the environment. As director of environmental research at the University of Tehran, she wants to train scholars and activists in environmental law. “If NGOs were educated more about the rights of citizens, laws and the environment, they would be more likely to demand protections,” says Jamali.