grantees » Habiba Amiri

Habiba Amiri, Afghanistan

The story of Habiba is an example of how a young woman can overcome any obstacle towards becoming an environmental leader.For Habiba, becoming a leader meant risking “public decry, injury and often death” in the male-dominated society of her home country, Afghanistan. Nevertheless, this has not stopped her from finishing her studies and working in prestigious organizations before being employed at the Conservation Organization for Afghan Mountain Areas (COAM) as country director.

COAM is a NGO promoting community development and natural resources management. When Habiba began working at COAM, the NGO had few resources and connections. Despite the challenging working environment for women in Afghanistan, Habiba met with donors and other international agencies to help build the capacity of the organization to achieve the success it now has. 

Habiba’s goal is to expand COAM’s work to cover the entire country. However, COAM currently relies heavily on the expertise of international scientists to address local conservation issues. Habiba would like the expert knowledge to come from within the NGO. In order to make some first steps into this direction, Habiba used her grant to travel on her first international voyage and spend a month in Ireland, gaining invaluable new experiences and getting to know the COAM’s international partners which are mainly based there. Some of these activities included English courses which has helped her to improve her project writing skills Habiba also did an internship at the Carrig Bawn community development and environmental education centre. Here she learned various techniques of environmental conservation, such as employing practical permaculture design and practical green technologies, which she hopes to apply in Afghanistan.

Looking back at her experience, Habiba notices a change in her performance regarding the work she does. “My eyes are now opened and I see how organizations and people work in very professional environments that are not so common in Afghanistan”. Her advice for aspiring environmental leaders? “Don’t give up, it is difficult and lonely work but there are always bright days. Never give up”.

Nominated by

Amy Jennings:  Conservation Organization for the Afghan Mountains (COAM):  Afghanistan.