With Ilwad Elman, the State of Hesse honors a personality who is committed to the survivors of gender-based violence and for peace in Somalia. In particular, the award recognizes Ms. Elman's tireless efforts to engage various victim groups in peace negotiations to achieve a sustainable and stable peace.
Ilwad Elman was born in Mogadishu, Somalia on December 22, 1989. She migrated with her mother and two sisters in the 1990s, first to Kenya, then to Canada. In 2010, she returned to Somalia to work for a peace process in the East African country as the civil war continued. She still pursues this work today, including in the NGO Elman Peace, which was founded by her parents. Elman Peace is committed to human rights, gender justice, protection of civilians, peace and social issues.
Ms. Elman is the founder of “Sister Somalia”, the first crisis center for survivors of sexual violence in Somalia. The initiative combines culturally appropriate trauma therapies and educational programs. At the same time, Ms. Elman advocates for survivors of gender-based and gender-specific violence to be involved in peacebuilding. Ilwad Elman further serves as a founding member of the “Advisory Committee for Researching Gender Based Violence Social Norms” in Somalia and South Sudan, an advisor in the “Women Waging Peace Network for Inclusive Security,” and a member of the Kofi Annan Foundation's “Extremely Together” initiative, which seeks to prevent violent extremism worldwide through work with youth.
In 2014, Ilwad Elman graduated from the White House Fellowship for Young African Leaders, established by President Barack Obama, and that same year was named a Youth Ambassador to Somalia for Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict. In August 2016, Elman was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as an Expert Advisor on Youth, Peace and Security and tasked with advising on a study to develop a strategy for UN Security Council Resolution 2250. In 2018, Elman Peace initiated the Peace by Africa network with the UN Development Programme.
In December 2022, Ilwad Elman received the RightLivelihood Prize, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” together with her mother Fartuun Adan. In 2020, she received the German Africa Prize.