Egypt, Born 1930
A geologist, politician and development specialist, Farkhonda Hassan is widely respected for her unwavering commitment to science, nature conservation and to the advancement of women’s rights throughout the Arab world.
She credits her father with what she calls her “fascination” with geology — by showing her a fossil and explaining how it was formed, he sparked off a vocation that led her to become one of the few women studying geology in Egypt. After raising her two children, she resumed her studies, obtaining a Ph.D in 1970 at the University of Pittsburgh, in the United States.
Alongside her research and teaching in geology as a professor at the American University in Cairo and serving as a member of the Executive Board of the Arab Women Organization, Dr Hassan has served in many national and international political institutions. She was elected to the Egyptian Parliament in 1979 and has played a key role in setting up the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, in the establishment of nature reserves and in the implementation of environmental protection laws.
Professor Hassan has actively promoted women’s rights and women’s role in science as chair of the National Committee for Women in Science, president of the Scientific Association for Egyptian Women and co-founder of the Arab Network for Women in Science and Technology. She has been co-chair since 1998 of the Gender Advisory Board of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development. Between 1990 and 2000, she co-chaired the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO). Farkhonda Hassan was awarded the National Order of Merit of Arts and Sciences, first class, by the Egyptian government in 1980.
Published in 2008