This young Somali woman is carrying her father’s legacy forward! And rightly so. Meet Ilwad Elman. She is a Somali-Canadian social activist who works at the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Mogadishu alongside her mother Fartuun Adan, the NGO’s founder.
Elman took to Instagram to share the news of her appointment to the UN’s Peacebuilding Fund and its meaning yesterday. She wrote:
Another year, another milestone!
UN Secretary General António Guturres just appointed me as one of his Advisors to the UN Peace Building Fund! I’m so thrilled to be able to serve in this new capacity! To support national ownership of Peace processes globally & advise on the fund allocations for fragile states. Eeeek!!! This is a major responsibility & a significant display of the Secretary General’s commitment to the Women, Peace & Security agenda by appointing a young woman! SO honored and so excited to serve!
Born in Mogadishu, Ilwad is one of four daughters of the late entrepreneur and peace activist Elman Ali Ahmed and social activist Fartuun Adan. Her father is celebrated internationally as the Somali Father of Peace, having led the peace movement in the country in the 1990s and coining the famous national mantra, “Drop the Gun, Pick up the Pen”. Ahmed was assassinated in 1996 for his human rights work.
Elman’s mother, Fartuun Adan, is co-founder of the NGO, Elman Peace Centre in Mogadishu. The center is the first rape crisis center for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and its work focuses on designing interventions aimed at security sector reform to create an inclusive space for women in peacebuilding as well as developing programs for the disarmament and rehabilitation of child soldiers and adults defecting from armed groups.
Ilwad serves as Director of Programs and Development where she is responsible for designing and overseeing the Centre’s programs. She also designs programs, carries out educational workshops, and advocates on behalf of women and children.
Eman is a prolific speaker who has spoken on numerous local and international stages including the first TEDx event in Somalia. She is mentored by Kofi Annan through his foundation Extremely Together, which aims to prevent violent extremism by inspiring, engaging and empowering youth globally.
Elman has served as the One Young World Ambassador to Somalia since 2013 and completed President Barrack Obama’s flagship White House Fellowship for Young African Leaders in 2014. She was also appointed Youth Ambassador to Somalia for Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict.
In 2016, she was voted African Young Personality (Female) of the Year at the Africa Youth Awards and was the 2017 BET Global Good Star Award Recipient. She and her mom were also finalists for the prestigious Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity which awards $1 million to a laureate each year.