Empowering vulnerable Somali Girls and Women - a narrative on the role of education for health and development


  • Mohamed Ahmed Aden University of Health Science, Puntland State of Somalia
  • Farouk Majani Galkayo Education Center for Peace and development, Galkayo, Somalia
  • Jamila Aden Deanship of Graduate Studies and Research, East Africa University, Puntland State, Somalia
  • Khalif Mohamud Bile Somali National Institute of Health (NIH)
  • Barbro Lundmark Vännäs Rotary Club, Vännäs, Sweden
  • Stig Wall Vännäs Rotary Club, Vännäs, Sweden; Department of Epidemiology & Global Health, Umeå university, Sweden




education, empowerment, Galkayo, Somalia, gender based violence, gender equality, female genital mutilation, internally displaced persons


Promoting the education of girls and young women is a powerful strategy for empowering them in societies influenced by traditional patriarchal cultural norms. Hawa Aden Mohamed, a Somali educator, has been urging action on women's rights for over twenty years. Following years of exile during civil unrest, she returned to her homeland in 1999 and established the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development, a non-government organisation committed to strengthening the capacity of girls and women to advocate for fundamental human rights such as gender equality in education and health, and protection from abusive practices such as female genital mutilation.

Within this narrative, the voices of Mama Hawa, current and former students and their mothers, school officials and local government representatives connect to tell the compelling story of this inspirational Somali-based Centre.

This may serve as a catalyst for nurturing girls’ education and create an enabling environment for pivotal engagement in Somalia’s national development and the pursuit of human rights. Somali leaders at all tiers of governance, civil society organisations, educational institutions, the private sector, the wider communities, and international partners are urged to work to make gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women through education, a central theme for achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals.