Women’s Rights: Meet a Saudi Arabian Woman Scientist

As we surf the sun-dappled beaches of the Internet, we sometimes come across a rogue wave that just knocks us butt-up-in-the-air and leaves us high and dry, wondering what hit us.  And so it was today as we searched for ways to get in touch with some young scientists we met in the Cook County Forest Preserves who were engaged in a study of stream hydrology in tributaries of the North Branch of the Chicago River.

The young researchers didn’t have business cards and they gave us some basic info by which we might read about the results of their studies.  We had some photographs we took during today’s rain storms that we thought they might be inin and so we set about to find them.

We often confuse Northwestern and Northeastern Universities.  Who knows why?  But it happens, and it happened again today.  We were following leads on the Internet from the Northwestern homepage to their research departments, then to hydrology, then to this link for the GEODE Initiative at Northwestern, which sent us to a dead link.  We then went down to the next link, for the main website for GLOBE, and searched for the local Illinois affiliates of this program by searching under the tab at the top of the page labeled “Community”.  Then we clicked on “Regions and Countries” … which is when we suddenly found ourselves upside-down on a sand dune.

http://www.globe.gov/community/countries/overview

Regions and Countries

Overview

Featured Profile

Norah Nasser

Mrs. Norah Al Nasser of Saudi Arabia is the newest member of the GLOBE International Advisory Committee (GIAC) representing the GLOBE Near East + North Africa region.

Wow!  Did not expect to see this!  Who is this woman and why is she forced to hide her entire face from the world?

It turns out she’s a very impressive woman scientist and teacher working in the country with possibly the worst record on women’s rights in the world: Saudi Arabia.  And she appears to be much more than meets the eye – which isn’t saying much because no one outside her closest family members and hopefully her students ever gets to see any part of her at all… except maybe just a hint of eyeball occasionally.

That was a poor sort of joke, and hopefully Mrs. Nasser would not be offended because we are profoundly and truly impressed with the work she does.  She really appears to be an amazing person, fighting under some of the most severe oppression of women you’ll find anywhere.  Read this – and between the lines and see if you can understand what this means :

Featured Coordinators

Mrs Norah Al Nasser
GLOBE International Advisory Committee (GIAC)
Saudi Arabia

Mrs. Norah Al Nasser of Saudi Arabia is the newest member of the GLOBE International Advisory Committee (GIAC) representing the GLOBE Near East+North Africa region. Her successor, Mrs. Zakeya Ahmed Ali Zada of Bahrain, served in this capacity from 2006–2011 and will be an invaluable mentor to Mrs. Al Nasser.

Mrs. Al Nasser began her career in science in 1992 as a physics teacher, following her graduation from the College of Education for Girls in Riyadh. During her 11 years as a teacher, she earned a Masters in Science Education from King Saud University and, in 2005, was appointed as Supervisor for Scientific and Environmental Activity at the Riyadh Ministry of Education. There she led the Environmental Education Program. Mrs. Al Nasser’s interest in student scientific research qualified her as a judge in the First Student Scientific Conference about the Environment for secondary school students in her country.

In late 2010, Mrs. Al Nasser joined GLOBE as Deputy Country Coordinator of the Girls Section. Long-time GLOBE Master Trainer Mr. Rafat Jambi, who also serves on the GLOBE team in Saudi Arabia, trained her in GLOBE protocols. Mrs. Al Nasser helped identify schools in 14 educational districts for GLOBE implementation and facilitated the formation of GLOBE girls’ teams.

In mid-2011 she was appointed as GLOBE Deputy Country Coordinator in both the Boys and Girls Sections –working with Dr. Hadi Ali Bahari, GLOBE Country Coordinator for Saudi Arabia. She has assumed many responsibilities, such as:

Management of the Annual operating plan for GLOBE in Saudi Arabia
General supervision of GLOBE implementation
Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for GLOBE in Saudi Arabia
General supervision of the training workshops.

The GLOBE Program congratulates and welcomes Mrs. Norah Al Nasser to the GLOBE International Advisory Committee.

*****************************************

OK, read that again.  Do you have any idea how difficult it must have been for this woman to get to the position she has attained today, fighting all the way through obstacle after obstacle after roadblock after mountain?  It would appear that absolutely NOTHING will stop Mrs. Nasser from educating Saudi Arabian “girls” (meaning young women and young adult women in Saudi-speak) to become scientists.  “College of Education for Girls”?  What century are we in again?

In France, the police are authorized to stop veiled women in the street and order them to remove their veils.  We at IWPCHI think that’s disgusting, and a complete violation of a woman’s right to go anywhere at any time dressed any way she wishes to dress.  And to think of a French cop accosting a courageous woman like Mrs. Nasser in Paris and ordering her – at the risk of humiliation, and disgrace among her friends and family – to remove her veil strikes us as profoundly offensive.  Far more offensive than the veil itself, which we are not a big fan of, to say the least.

This chance encounter with Mrs. Nasser on the Internet brought us up short and showed us that things are almost never as simple as they appear to be on the surface.

And unless we get information to prove us wrong about her politics, we are making Mrs. Norah Nasser of Saudi Arabia a “Working Class Hero”.

IWPCHI

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