More than 200 young women graduated from different faculties at Somali International University (SIU) in Mogadishu this week, reflecting a major advancement overall in female education in Somalia.
Bilan Abdullahi Mohamed, who lives in Daynile district of Mogadishu, told Radio Ergo that her university experience had been challenging but rewarding. She was one of 46 females to graduate in public health.
“My father died when I was very young. My mother was the sole breadwinner of our family and she encouraged me to continue my education. From primary to university, she was my supporter,” said Bilan.
Bilan’s five sisters all migrated to Europe four years ago in search of a better life. Bilan decided to stay and her life took a different course that she does not regret.
“My siblings migrated and some are in Kenya. I am the only child in Mogadishu and being educated. My ambition was always to complete my education,” she explained.
Security issues and roadblocks in the troubled capital city from time to time have meant it was sometimes difficult to get to classes and exams.
“Sometimes, when roads are blocked during the exams, you have to walk and by the time you reach the university, you may find the school gate closed and you will be told you will not do the exam,” Bilan recalled.
SIU’s colourful graduation ceremony this year boasted 231 female and 299 male graduates.
Safiya Ahmed Shire, 20, another public health graduate, also attributes her success to her mother’s encouragement.
Safiya had to walk long distances between her home in KM4 locality and the university in Hamarweyne district.
“It was not easy. Sometimes on a hot day, you may arrive late. I used to walk all the way to school. Sometimes you are hungry and the sun is overhead but you always remember your target!” she said.
She praised the increase in female students saying the girls and their parents have now realised the importance of education.
“People have come to know the importance of knowledge and that education can bring progress, that a girl can work and have confidence in herself rather than relying on someone else,” she said.
Ahmed Abdi Hadi, public relations director at SIU, said the university is committed to encouraging young women to pursue their dreams.
“The number of female students is close to that of males and in recent years girls’ education has been progressing.