Current Affairs

Two Muslim African women won the Nobel Peace Prize

by Fatima Kermalli

Amid an abundance of noise and controversy surrounding Nobel Peace Prize nominees Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg, two – lesser known – Muslim women are favored to win the prestigious prize.
The impact that women have made throughout history have left profound imprints. What is more, women with innate instincts to nourish continue to strive towards serenity for humanity. Such efforts have been recognized by the Nobel Prize Organization for this year’s nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize. Specifically, two women from Africa, Hajer Sharief and Ilwad Elman, were named among the favored list for winning the prestigious award due to their peacebuilding initiatives in their respective countries.
The Nobel Peace Prize, which was first awarded in 1901, is said to honor “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses” according to the Nobel Prize organization. Furthermore, both of these women were also on the short list of the Director for the Peace Research Institute Oslo

Hajer Sharief delivering a TED Talk on how to use family dinner to teach politics in July. Photo courtesy of TEDx.

Hajer Sharief, 26, a Libyan law student has been actively working towards peace in Libya since 2011. Witnessing the horrific events of the civil war that occurred in her country dramatically impacted her. Thus, at the age of 19, Sharief started her own organization to support a peaceful democratic transition called Together We Build It. The organization focuses on empowering women and youth in Libya. In 2013, Sharief also co-initiated the 1325 Network project, a collection of organizations and activists across 30 cities in Libya who are able to work together to raise awareness of women’s role in building safe societies. Currently, she is studying law.

A pioneer of the human – and women’s – rights movement in Libya, Sharief has been involved in humanitarian work since witnessing the Libyan civil war of 2011 first-hand. She founded NGO Together We Build It, which aims to support a peaceful and democratic transition in Libya after the war, as well as co-started the 1325 Network project in 2013, which is a collection of human rights organizations and activists from across 30 cities in Libya.

Elman doing fieldwork as she worked on a project building a police station – with the aim of creating jobs for youth – in Banadir, Somalia. Courtesy of Elman.

Ilwad Elman, 29, a Somalian social rights activist was born in Mogadishu to two parents who were peace activists as well, Fartuun Adan and Elman Ali Ahmed. Years later, after her mother, her and her sisters sought asylum in Canada and her father’s assassination for assisting in the rehabilitation of youth that have been drafted by war, Elman returned to Mogadishu to propagate peace. Since then, she has led many social programs, especially those focused on women’s rights in Somalia. Subsequently, she has founded Somalia’s first rape crisis center for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

Elman, whose father was reportedly assassinated for his involvement in humanitarian work, has been working actively in the humanitarian and women’s rights sectors in Somalia, founding the country’s first rape crisis center for survivors of gender-based violence and abuse.

Both these women with vision and hope strove in their own ways to bring peace and functionality to their two nations. They are an example of what the Noble Prize Foundation desires individuals to achieve, which is working towards a better world to live in.

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