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Young Women who are Peacebuilding

From GRAZIA Middle East, October 17, 2019 by Zahara Kahn

Though Greta Thunberg has undoubtedly been the most uttered name in the realm of activism making her a leading contender for the Nobel Peace Prize, two high-achieving Muslim women are hot on her heels.

Last week, Libyan law student and activist, Hajer Sharief, and Somali human rights activist, Ilwad Elman, made their nominations public.

Having both been a part of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s initiative 'Extremely Together', which cultivates the abilities and potentials of 10 young activists from across the globe, both women are now known for being important catalysts for peacebuilding and combatting violent extremism in their respective countries.

At the ripe age of 19, Hajer Sharief co-founded the organization 'Together We Build it' and has since worked towards promoting a peaceful democratic transition in Libya, inclusive of women and youth.

Following in the footsteps of her late activist father, Ilwad Elman returned to her native city, Mogadishu, to run the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, at just 29 years old. Dedicated to peace efforts, the organisation is behind a number of initiatives motivated to prevent gender-based violence.

Henrik Urdal, Director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), who shortlisted the young activists as contenders for the prize said, “…Young people are setting the agenda on issues of critical importance for peace and security both locally and globally, challenging established narratives and generational power dynamics…it is my view that the contributions of young people should be highlighted in this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

You can hear an interesting TedTalk by Hajer by visiting TedTalks and searching for her there.

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