“Mother of Iran’s environment” dies at 104

November 8, 2021 - 16:52

TEHRAN – Mahlaqa Mallah, known as the “mother of Iran’s environment” for dedicating her life to protecting the environment, passed away at the age of 104 on Monday.

Mallah was born on September 21, 1917, in a caravanserai close to Now Kandeh, whilst her parents were traveling to Mashhad on a pilgrimage. Her mother and her grandmother were both women's rights activists in Iran. Her father, Aqabozorg Mallah, worked for the government and lived in several cities.

After studying philosophy, social sciences, and sociology at the University of Tehran, Mallah was awarded an MA in Social Sciences in 1958. In 1966, she moved to Paris to study for a Ph.D. at the University of the Sorbonne, which she graduated from in 1968. During her time in Paris, she also studied librarianship at the National Library of France.

After graduation, Mallah returned to Iran and began work as a librarian at the Psychology Research Institute Library at Tehran University.

Mallah's interest in environmental activism was fostered growing up, as her mother, Khadijeh Afzal Vaziri, was an environmentalist too. However, her interest grew when she was working as a librarian and, in 1973, read a book on pollution in order to understand how to catalog it.

After Mallah retired in 1977, she began work researching pollution in Tehran and started by visiting houses to talk to people about pollution and other environmental issues.

She founded the organization of the Women's Society Against Environmental Pollution, which was the first non-governmental environmental organization in Iran.

It has branches in 14 Iranian cities and has enabled over 25,000 families to recycle. In 2011 it was reputedly the most popular environmental group in the country.

In 2009 the Society published a report entitled "Water Rights" and stressed the urgent need for the conservation of wetland habitats in Iran.

In 2015 the documentary All My Trees featured Mallah's life story and was directed by Rakhshan Banietemad. As a result of her activities, Mallah has become known as the "Mother of Iran's Environment".


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