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How The IIDA is Improving the Lives of Somali Women

Over the past two weeks, the UN has spearheaded a campaign called 16 Days of Activism, which aims to raise public awareness about gender-based violence and mobilise people to bring about change.

The realities of global violence against women are extremely depressing. According to a UN report, data collated in 87 countries over a decade revealed that 19% of women aged between 15 and 49 said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence in the year prior to the survey.

It’s little wonder the UN believes that violence against women and girls is ‘one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.’

Somalia has its own well-documented struggles with these shameful issues, ranging from gender based violence and FGM, to cultural and structural deficiencies that adversely affect the economic prospects and healthcare of women.

However, the existence of these problems in Somalia has led to the creation of non-governmental organisations intent on fighting them. IIDA Women’s Development Organisation is one of these.

IIDA was founded in 1991 by a group of Somali women activists headed up by Halima Abdi Arush. A former education inspector, Arush started the NGO following the civil war. The dictatorial administration of Said Barre and the upsurge of violent conflict not only claimed the lives of many Somalis – including Arush’s husband – but resulted in a deficit of rights and the legacy of oppression for Somalia’s women.

Since then, the IIDA has fought for the advancement of Somali women both at home and in the diaspora. The organisation works closely with local communities to tackle violence against women, particularly in the form of FGM; while offering training that will give Somali women a chance to achieve economic independence.

Despite all of the good work of IIDA, the challenges the organisation face will always be heightened by the enduring effects of the civil war. The conflict resulted in long term damage to the country’s infrastructure, notably in relation to government and security, but also in terms of healthcare.

Along with fighting the violence Somali women and girls often face, the IIDA is participating in the efforts to re-establish the institutions that will help them prosper. Earlier this month, the combined efforts of IIDA and the UN to improve the De Martino Hospital in Mogadishu resulted in doctors carrying out the first caesarian section at the hospital in 25 years – ensuring the health of both mother and baby:

This is just one example of the incredible achievements of the IIDA. Their efforts should inspire all of us to end the injustice they are fighting against.

Featured image credit: IIDA.