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Biography of Asha HAGI ELMI

Somalia > Social : Asha HAGI ELMI

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Biography :

Asha Hagi Elmi born in 1962 is a Somalian peace activist, Chairlady and founder of Save Somali Women & Children (SSWC) [Non-governmental & non-profit making Somali women organization, at a national level, established in 1992

The Jury honours Asha Hagi "for continuing to lead at great personal risk the female participation in the peace and reconciliation process in her war-ravaged country."

 When civil war gripped the country in 1991 when President Siyad Barre was ousted. A year later, Hagi created Save Somali Women and Children or SSWC to advocate for equal rights for women in politics. "Always conflict has two sides…a positive side and a negative side. It depends how you transform those difficult moments into useful and helpful, positive moments. Save Somali Women and Children was born out of that anger, frustration and the pain that we went through," Hagi said.

"I know that one day I will be killed," Hagi said. "I would rather die making a difference. I’m doing it for my daughters, for a new Somalia."

Born in 1962, Asha Hagi graduated in economics from Somalia National University and holds a Master's degree in business administration from the US International University in Africa.

Asha Hagi co-founded in 1992, and is the current Chair of, Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC), which works for a safe and sustainable Somalia by supporting women to overcome marginalisation, violence and poverty in their communities. SSWC has seven paid staff and nine volunteers. A large part of the humanitarian funding comes directly from the Somali community around the world as well as from international organisations and individual donors.

During the Arta peace talks in 2000, Hagi founded, together with other women, the Sixth Clan, the clan of women, to complement the traditional five Somali Clans which are all male-dominated. This became the first time women were represented in a peace process in Somalia. She played a similar role in the Mbagathi Conference in Nairobi (2002-2004), which gave birth to the Transitional Federal Government and the Transitional Federal Parliament, of which Hagi became a member.

Hagi is currently a member of the High Level Political Committee in the Djibouti Peace and Reconciliation Talks, aimed at bringing an ongoing insurgency to an end.

Somali has been embroiled in violence since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

However, the situation worsened after Ethiopian troops invaded in 2006 to kick out the Islamist regime and put the transitional federal government back in power.

Almost ten thousand civilians are believed to have been killed in the insurgency and around one million have fled.

The daily violence has prevented Hagi from living in Mogadishu, forcing her to instead set up home in Nairobi in neighbouring Kenya.

‘Asha Hagi has been working tirelessly to help restore peace and stability to her homeland,’ said Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Special Representative for the UN Secretary-General for Somalia.

Hagi has been recognized several times for her efforts, including in 2005 when she received the Blue Ribbon Peace Award from the Women Leadership Board of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. 


 Acknowledgements: Global Peace Ambassador at Mogadishu, Somalia (by IIFW, 2001), Personality of the Year in Peace Building in Somalia (2002), nominated as one of the 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize” (29th June 2005): Winner of 2009 Clinton Global Citizen Award.

Asha Hagi has dedicated her life to gaining a better and more peaceful future for her war-torn country, Somalia. At great personal risk, she has fought for women to have a voice in the decisions that affect them. She has mobilized women in the cause of peace across clan and political divides and continues to play a vital role in mediating across warring clans in the on-going peace process. Women in Somalia are in a much stronger position today because of her courage, persistence and compassion.

Last update : 11/19/2010

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