On International Women’s Day, displaced girls now dream of becoming President of Somalia

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 08 Mar 2013

Mama Hawa offers hope as Fridtjof Nansen dormitory foundation stone is laid   

On International Women’s Day (8 March), displaced Somali girls can dream of leading a new Somalia. Thanks to UNHCR’s 2012 Nansen Refugee Award laureate ‘Mama’ Hawa Aden Mohamed and her Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development (GECPD), these girls now have the opportunity to build independent lives.   

As part of her on-going work to empower women, Mama Hawa recently broke ground on her latest initiative, the construction of an 80-bed dormitory in Galkayo. There, members of the GECPD community gathered and offered their stories.   

Coming from a nomadic family, sixteen year old Falis Mohamed found settling down in a classroom difficult. But nearing the end of her secondary education at Mama Hawa’s school in Harfo, she is already looking to a brighter future.  

“If this school never existed, I would not have reached this level or have this knowledge. By now I would have been married to a peasant or a nomad. But my thinking has changed. I even hope to become the President of Somalia some day!” she said. Falis spoke as Mama Hawa helped to lay the foundation stone of the dormitory.  

Mama Hawa believes that Somali youth – young girls in particular – are indispensable in rebuilding a peaceful and cohesive Somalia. “If we develop our youth in terms of peace, skills training and education, working with one another, knowing one another, becoming friends, if we teach them, it will be: ‘you are my friend, we are in the same position, we should work hard,’” she said.  

The dormitory, named after humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen and funded by the USD 100,000 Nansen Refugee Award prize money, will house up to 80 children. Displaced from south central Somalia, they will come to Galkayo for the rare chance to study. These youth will spend more time learning and bonding with each other, helping to break down decades-old clan rivalries that have driven Somali society apart. In this way, a new generation coming of age in Somalia may realise dreams they thought never possible.  

END

Further information: Faith Kasina, UNHCR Somalia, +254 733 12 11 36 kasina@unhcr.org UNHCR Somalia Representative Alessandra Morelli is available for interview The video of the foundation stone-laying is available to view/download at: http://youtu.be/aIfTo6t2B8E
For information on Mama Hawa Aden Mohamed and the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award: http://www.unhcr.org/nansen/50374ba26.html
For information on Fridtjof Nansen: http://www.unhcr.org/nansen/50374a386.html