Hera City – a women-centric urban project for families

 In Associations, Development, In Focus, News, Real Estate

When I heard the entrepreneur Marianela Mirpuri recently outline an impressive and at times intangible project for a new city in the sands of Morocco, which promised to be a Mecca for gender equality and a safe haven for women against the tyrannies of Arabian and Indian-style male control, manipulation and dominance, images immediately began to pour into my head.


Text: Chris Graeme Photo: ACL

First the romantic side plucked a childhood memory of being glued to the film SHE based on the adventure novel by Victorian author Rider Haggard about a community of mostly male priests and soldiers subjugated to the timeless, alluring and ruthless beauty of Ayesha who led her banished people out of ancient Egypt to found a new city to last 2,000 years.
Then, after my mind flirted with fleeting images of warlike, but glamorous Amazons rampaging through Brazilian rainforests in panther tooth necklaces and leopard leotards, and Boudicca’s chariots driving Roman soldiers into the temple at Colchester to burn alive, I finally settled on the very American example of Miami, Florida, which — and I am sure not everyone is aware of this — was founded by a woman; the only female founder of a city in the US, Julia Tuttle in 1874 who was dubbed the ‘Mother of Miami’. However, any kind of feminist allusions stop there.

Uplifting women’s lives

It is unquestioned that women today hold a prominent place in society, and they have come a long way since early times. However, gender equality isn’t an omnipresent reality yet. Hera’s aim is to promote this undoubtedly fundamental human right.
Hera is a worldwide organisation focused on uplifting women’s lives for the future of humanity. Hera’s vision is to promote and highlight women and their incredible strength, tenacity and creativity.
While it supports the continuous effort for the development for the legal, political and conceptual bases for gender equality, Hera focuses on the active creation of concrete, tangible and very substantial opportunities enabling women to feel complete and live their lives in self-fulfilment.
The founder of the philanthropic association ‘Hera – The Light of Women’ – Marianela Mirpuri (pictured left with moderator and American Club of Lisbon board member Patrícia Akester) hails from the entrepreneurial Mirpuri family consisting of Carlos, Sílvia, Luiza and Paulo who owned the airline Air Luxor and today manages HiFly, a company which wet leases aircraft and leases one of the largest passenger planes in the world. It also has a foundation, the Mirpuri Foundation.
Marianela, who was the guest speaker at a dinner hosted by the American Club of Lisbon at the Hotel Sheraton & Spa in Lisbon, is a great believer that “we can all be what we want to be” and explained that from an early age she wanted to be a philanthropist, but had to raise her family and work, but was grateful to have a job whereby she could travel and meet interesting people, some of which helped form her own international network.
But it was only three years ago that Marianela finally was able to decide that she no longer wanted to be an executive, and found ‘Hera – The Light of Women’ as a means of giving back to society what society gave her.
“I chose the name because Hera was the Greek goddess that protected women. (family and childbirth) I used the movement that I had created and my travels to see other realities that were different from mine, the realities of the countries I visited,” she said.
“I created an informal movement that would later give rise to ‘Hera – The light of Women’”, she explained, outlining how for 30 years she worked in the aviation business which at that time was a male-dominated sector, and “although I never faced discrimination, I thought there was a greater pace for women and started to wonder why women were not more involved in the male-dominated world”.

Working worldwide

Marianela says it is strange and very dangerous that in the 21st century that there is still gender inequality, which is an issue recognised by the United Nations. “I thought we have a long way to go, and now is the time. We can’t wait any longer. I started this NGO based in Portugal, but we work all over the world”.
Marianela, received the Medal of the City of Mumbai in 2020 from the Mayor of Mumbai Kishori Pednekar, the seventh lady mayor of the city, because of the work Hera and its ambassadors did in India.
“I have a great team of 52 advisors and ambassadors worldwide, they are all volunteers, believe in the project and in my vision. It is only through them that I could pursue the project throughout the years to become what it is today”, she stressed.
The NGO association works on projects in India, Africa, Brazil and Europe and the medal it received was for its many campaigns in India such as the bus it runs to transport women on the streets of Mumbai from 6pm to 6am because of the huge rape problem in the city. Hera also operates a school bus.

An Observatory for mankind

Hera also has an ‘Observatory for the Future of Humanity’ based in Portugal which was set up with the support of Cascais Municipal Council. The official opening took place on 25 November at its headquarters in the town’s Casa de Santa Maria.
“I am focusing on the Observatory now because it is important that before we start on the Hera City project, this observatory will start the preparatory ground work that will become the Hera City. It means gathering the biggest minds in the world to come to Portugal, and Cascais in particular, to reflect and debate and publish work on what should be a better future for humanity,” she explains.
“We think that Hera is the most formidable project of the 21st century in this gender equality area, and will be a cultural leap, born from the love of humanity, world peace and the dignity of women worldwide. In a world where exclusion is generally practised, Hera, we hope, will be a refreshing change to positivity and shows the way to exclusive endeavours and behaviours”, she added.
The observatory will also structure the Institute of Advanced Studies that will structure Hera. It will, besides the Hera Association, be the presence of Hera in Portugal.

The Hera City

The Hera association’s plan is to initiate a real estate project adapted to the place where it will be built as well as the instructions from the investors and stake holders.
Hera City will be a large sustainable, environmental-friendly city where women, men and families from all places will be gathered.
It is important to note the great economical, cultural and social development it will bring for the region in which it will be built will strongly enhance its market value.
“This cosmopolitan and multicultural space will be designed to be women-friendly, but a domain in which both women and men will feel at home. Families are more than welcome and there will be sufficient space to accommodate everyone. Hera City shall offer those who visit it a stay full of charm and detail”, explains the entrepreneur.
“If the woman, who gives birth to humanity, educates humanity then she educates society and she can make the change in the world”.
Marianela says it will be a physical city with a soul, like any other city, as well as a real estate project to serve the people who live, work and study there. The difference, however, lies in its philosophy.
The association has secured 10,000 hectares for a project that will be the size of Lisbon, granted by the government of Morocco near the coastal town of Garmin in the north of the country.
The city will be a decades-long ongoing project which will grow and expand as required, from the germination of an idea to creating a meeting point, a place of conversation and debate, revelation, and exploring the feminine universe and issues that dominate feminism today. The project will be a platform for debates, lectures, classes, exhibitions and concerts.
Marianela is vague on how the association plans to attract people to the city save saying it will be through the contacts made over the past three years and points to a packed agenda for 2022 but says it is a work of “communicating”.
“Our aim is that before the city is built, we want everyone to know about the city. We are creating awareness and have conferences on a daily basis, music concerts, art exhibitions, cultural and social events, a TV channel ‘Hera TV’ and a documentary planned for NETFLIX,” the philanthropist explains.
Hera, is a wonderfully utopian idea, but I suspect it will begin life as an exclusive, modern, luxury real estate development opportunity which, hopefully, will have municipal rules that insist on equality for women in an otherwise muslim male-orientated machoistic society where many of its male ruling elite still subscribe to the idea of 72 virgins awaiting them in paradise. Perhaps it will have elements of a Swiss finishing school in the sands in terms of education, or maybe an army and police force in which women will enjoy equality with men, perhaps even a Foreign Legion for Ladies.
Educating boys from an early age to respect women as equals and not subservients should always be the goal, and in this community there is a brave promise to cultivate this, but whether in India or North Africa, the notion that men are from Mars and women are form Venus is still the prevailing and ingrained attitude, supported by any number of male despots whose vested interests, I am afraid, is to keep women very much under wraps and behind the veil, both literally and figuratively. A brave project for a brave new world, indeed, but I will believe it, when I see it.

About Hifly

Hi Fly is a leading wide body aircraft wet lease specialist operating world-wide. It functions as a go-to organisation for airlines when they need additional capacity to cover their short-medium term or seasonal needs. It also offers leasing services to a number of governments to transport officials and defence personnel. It has a €30 million hanger in Beja for aircraft maintenance which was scheduled to come on line in 2020.

About Air Luxor

Air Luxor was an airline company based in Lisbon and operated a series of air routes from Lisbon’s international airport at Portela. According to the magazine ‘Sabado’ Paulo Mirpuri was the main man in what was, at the time, considered to be one of the most “brilliantly orchestrated bankruptcies” in Portuguese history with the collapse of the airline in a case involving losses of €86 million.

Luiza Mirpuri and the ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ campaign

Involved in the Mirpuri Foundation, doctor Luiza Mirpuri was interviewed by Sky News to cover an initiative involving the collection of data on micro plastic particles in the oceans from the foundation’s yacht ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ — one of seven boats that competed in that year’s edition of the extreme round-the-word sailing event.
The doctor told Essential Business in 2018 that there was a catastrophic level of micro plastics in the world’s oceans and seas, and that this is “slowly killing the human race”.
Seawater samples collected throughout the 45,000 mile journey were analysed and revealed traces of micro-plastics almost everywhere, including in the remotest waters in the Southern Ocean.
The Turn The Tide On Plastic yacht teamed up with Sky Ocean Rescue to campaign for a better understanding over the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans. The Portuguese Mirpuri Foundation, one of the sponsors of the vessel, told the Sky news programme the findings were “devastating”. Dr Luiza Mirpuri, who was the organisation’s medical adviser, said: “It will be catastrophic, not now, but in the third generation because of new diseases like cancer from these plastic contaminants.
“We are having more cancer, more allergic diseases, more infertility. We are less fertile than our grandfathers.”

About the Mirpuri Foundation

The Mirpuri Foundation, incorporated by the Mirpuri family as a non-profit organisation, was established by Paulo Mirpuri with the aim of contributing to a better world. Based on a commitment to make the world a better place for future generations, the foundation allocates its resources and intelligence where they are most needed. By fostering a spirit of collaboration between global authorities, companies, communities and individuals, it aims to positively impact the most pressing issues threatening our planet.