great somali women

Aswan Mohamoud Jibril at 26 became one of Somaliland's first female prosecutors.

Born and raised in Borama, which lies on the Ethiopian border, she has became a very passionate advocate for women’s equality in the region.

Aswan’s determination to fulfill her dream of becoming a lawyer led her first to apply for a scholarship to study law supported by UNDP.

“I was alerted of the UNDP-sponsored scholarship programme for women. I applied, and was lucky enough to be accepted. I graduated and secured an .LL.B in 2009. Two days only after my graduation, I enrolled in a 10-month internship programme, together with other female law graduates, through the Somaliland Women Lawyers Association, thanks to UNDP support,” she said.

Aswan was appointed as a prosecutor with the Somaliland Prosecutor’s Office, and spends her days in court prosecuting those convicted of a range of crimes, but mainly of crimes against women and children. 


Dr. Fahima Osman, Surgeon

She was the first Canadian-trained doctor in Toronto’s Somali community, Dr. Osman was a remarkable example of an immigrant success story. A refugee to Canada at the age of 11, she had been raised by loving parents with no formal schooling in a large family where money was always tight.

In 2003, she was 25, a year away from graduating and planning to become a surgeon in Canada. But she also dreamed of volunteering back in Somaliland, the former British protectorate that had become part of Somalia only to break away after her parents had left.

Still thinking of Somaliland, she started work on a master’s degree in public health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, to learn more about developing the health care system in low-income countries. “I need to help myself before I help anyone else,” she says.

Dr. Osman realized that what Somaliland needs aren’t more Canadian-trained doctors doing their best to patch holes, but locally trained surgeons and specialists to build a better system, one that truly understands the country’s culture and circumstances. So she now plans to create a foundation to work toward that goal by providing money and mentors. She has already begun to build links with more advanced medical schools in neighbouring Ethiopia, since there are no surgical-residency programs in Somaliland.

After all, Dr. Osman understands better than most the value of mentors and support networks, particularly when you are a trailblazer in your community.

Cadigia Ali

Cadigia is an Italian trained Doctor with over 20 years experience in delivering community and public health programs. She served on many community boards for local organizations including Humber River Regional Hospital, Humber Memorial Hospital, the Canadian Red Cross, Rexdale Legal Clinic, Etobicoke Conflict Mediation Team, Somali Youth Scholarship Fund and the Canadian Business College.

She also participated and supported The Walk for Somalia campaign wich saw young Somali-Canadian walkers hit the tarmac through 20 Canadian cities and towns to cover 400 Kilometers over eight days on their way to Ottawa, their final destination. This walk raised awareness and funds for victims of the famine in Somalia


Witness : Sisters of Somalia. Al Jazeera

This video follows Asha Hagi Elmi a Somali politician and peace activist as she works with women in a camp for internally displaced peoples in Mogadishu Somalia. Women in these camps are victimized at severely high rates and have little security. 

Magool born Halima Khaliif Omar, was a Somali singer.

In the 1970s, Magool sang famous patriotic songs while Somalia was at war with Ethiopia over the Ogaden. By the late 1970s, while she still interpreted love tunes, Magool also began singing Islamic songs that criticized Somalia’s then ruling military government. A self-imposed exile followed, which would last until 1987. Her concert of that year marking her return to the nation’s capital, titled “Mogadishu and Magool”, is to date the most successful concert in Somali history, with more than 15,000 people reportedly turning out in the city’s stadium.

Magool’s unique performances, ability to memorize entire albums’ worth of material in a matter of hours, and her deep, emotive voice would eventually earn her the title of Hoyadii Fanka, or “Mother of Artistry.”



 Ms Hanan Ibrahim is the founder of the NGO Somali Family Support Group (SFSG) in London, where she took up residence in 1998, she sat on the SAVE UK committee and became chair of the Barnet Muslim Women`s Network. In 2011 she was appointed by the Somali Federal Transition Government to the committee of experts drafting the new Somalian constitution. 

For her contributions to society, Ibrahim was presented in 2004 with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

She later received the Ambassador For Peace Award in 2009

In 2010, Ibrahim was also made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her community work with the SFSG

Muraayad Garaad Axmed  was a Political & Women’s Rights activist from (1977-1991), she was also the chairman of Somali Women’s Democratic Organization (SWDO).

 The SWDO was founded in 1977 to inspire and motivate Somali women to leadership roles in all aspects of Somali society. A “grass-roots”, multi-purpose organization, it is the only national women’s organization in the country. SWDO has a representative in all government ministries whose responsibility is to monitor women’s rights.

Objectives: The objectives of SWDO are to: act as force to translate the spirit and deeds of Somali women into positive activities that fulfill Party principles and Government policies; enable Somali women to take part in all the development programs in both public and private sectors; guide and lead Somali women into socially meaningful life, so that they can achieve equality in living conditions and status; ally with other Somali national organizations; and support regional and international women’s organizations that apply the principles of human equality and world peace.

Spotlight: Amina Hagi Elmi, Humanitarian.

Somali aid worker Amina Hagi Elmi is a tireless advocate for hundreds of thousands of displaced Somalia women, ensuring that they have access to sanitary cloths and basic hygiene when they menstruate.

“When everything else grinds to a halt, including basic services like water, health and food supplies, the menstrual cycle continues, oblivious of war or displacement,” she says,

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Political Activist Halima Ahmed speaks as part of a panel discussion on Fostering Political Stability - World Economic Forum on Africa 2012

Despite major progress, political and macroeconomic stability remain foremost concerns for long-term investors in many sub-Saharan economies. How can policy-makers further advance stability across the continent



• Bineta Diop, Chair of the Executive Board, Femmes Africa Solidarité, Switzerland; Global Agenda Council on Conflict Prevention
• Bekele Geleta, Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Geneva; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa
• Thabo Cecil Makgoba, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, South Africa
• Jean Ping, Chairperson of the Commission, African Union, Addis Ababa
• Robert Kenneth Sichinga, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Zambia

Moderated by
• Richard Dowden, Director, Royal African Society, United Kingdom