Pakistani environmentalist named among TIME’s women of the year

TIME unveiled their 2023 women of the year line-up on March 2, which features environmentalist Ayisha Siddiqa from Pakistan.


The TIME magazine’s 12 Women of the Year list, which honors significant people in activism, entertainment, and politics, made its debut in 2022. The publication unveiled their 2023 line-up on March 2, which features environmentalist Ayisha Siddiqa from Pakistan.

Ayisha Siddiqa was born on February 8, 1999, in Jhang, Pakistan. She grew up with her grandparents and now attributes their demise to the polluted river water they drank. She moved to Coney Island, Brooklyn, as a child and later earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English from Hunter College. She participated in the Thomas Hunter Honors program and also in the Edward T. Rogowsky Internship program at the New York State Assembly. She has also served as a fellow at the Coro New York Leadership Center. She has been a climate justice advocate and a legal fellow at Munger, Tolles & Olson. She is currently a fellow at the Climate Litigation Accelerator (CLX) at NYU Law.

In May 2019, Ayisha Siddiqa established the extinction rebellion branch at her university, which was her gateway into climate activism. On October 7, 2019, the organization called a strike with about 300,000 participants in Lower Manhattan, New York City. Strikers painted the Wall Street Charging Bull with fake blood as part of that protest. She also cofounded “Polluters Out” in response to the realization that fossil fuel industries play a big role in the COPs. Because of this effort, major oil firms were not sponsors of COP26. One such oil corporation to which sponsorship was denied was British Petroleum.

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Ayisha Siddiqa also took part in the protest at the TED Countdown Conference in Edinburgh when Ben van Beurden, the CEO of Shell Plc, and other executives from the fossil fuel industry were invited to speak. Furthermore, she is a founding member of Free Fossil University. In November 2021, she participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where she voiced criticism about the inaccessibility of COP, particularly for those from the Global South. She actively participated in the youth delegation to the COP27 in Egypt in 2022, where she read her poem titled “So much about your sustainability, my people are dying” to highlight how the leaders had failed their countries.

“I was raised with the idea that the earth is a living being, that she gives life to you and in return, you have a responsibility,” she told TIME. “And I think we, collectively, have come to a point where we are ignoring the cries of earth mother.”

Besides Ayisha Siddiqa, the TIME’s list includes Australian actor Cate Blanchett, American actor Angela Bassett, Somalian professional boxer Ramla Ali, American singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, Minister of Racial Equality of Brazil Anielle Franco, Ukrainian women’s and LGBT rights activist Olena Shevchenko, Mexican human rights activist Verónica Cruz Sánchez, Iranian-American journalist, author, and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, American soccer player Megan Rapinoe, Japanese incoming CEO Makiko Ono, and American writer Quinta Brunson.

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