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A Legacy of Hope: Zenab Mohamed Nour's Story

MADRE is celebrating the important work being done within our network of supporters and sister organizations by sharing stories of inspired activism and giving that will make a lasting impact on women's human rights. Our Legacy of Hope series gives us all a way to reflect on the work of incredible women who maintained a lifelong commitment to positive social change and human rights.

Legacy of Hope 
Zenab Mohamed Nour: How one woman's passion changed thousands of lives in Sudan

Zenab Mohamed Nour never dreamed of being a hero. As a young woman, she simply wanted to learn and teach others–and that meant defying tradition and becoming the first woman to attend the Omdurman Institute for Teachers in eastern Sudan. As a teacher, she challenged beliefs that girls' education was anything less than essential, and worked with the Ministry of Education to open dozens of schools for girls.

[Fatima Ahmed with her mother, Zenab Mohamed Nour - c.Peace Women Across the Globe]Towards the end of her teaching career, Zenab began thinking about how her efforts to empower girls would be carried on in the future. She resolved to support her daughter, Fatima Ahmed, in launching an organization dedicated to promoting women's human rights throughout Sudan.

Fatima named the organization after her mother, founding Zenab for Women in Development, now MADRE's sister organization in Sudan.

Zenab proudly watched as the new organization flourished under the leadership of her daughter. Today, Zenab for Women in Development is one of Sudan's leading women's organizations, delivering humanitarian aid to refugees in Darfur, providing literacy classes for women, facilitating workshops on HIV/AIDS prevention, working to combat forced female genital mutilation and spearheading sustainable agriculture initiatives for women.

[Our partner, Fatima Ahmed, an agronomist by training, works with women farmers to help grow food and advance women's rights. - c.Zenab] Upon her passing in 2006, Zenab fortified her legacy by leaving a bequest to the organization.

"My mother knew that it takes more than a single lifetime to change the world. She was lucky enough to have some resources and she used them to carry her commitment to women's rights far into the future. Just look at what we have been able to do with my mother's gift. We are saving lives and defending human rights. I know my mother is at peace because she planted the seed to keep her dream of a better world alive."

April 29, 2010