The German Africa Foundation has confirmed that Ilwad Elman will be honored later in October in Berlin by German Foreign Minister. The Somali-Canadian peace activist has been awarded the 2020 German Africa Prize.
Age 30, Ilwad Elman is considered as one of the leading voices in Somalia. As a result of her exceptional efforts, Elman was chosen from a shortlist of 30 candidates by the foundation to hand its marquee prize to the internationally recognized expert on conflict and resolution.
Elman’s love for humanity can be linked to her father; Elman Ali Ahmed- an engineer, as well as an entrepreneur and social activist. As Somalia descended into civil war in the early 1990s; her father had established a rehabilitation and apprenticeship scheme for Somali child soldiers and orphans. When Mogadishu became unsafe, Elman who was two years old flee to Canada with her mother.
In 2010, Elman returned to Somalia with her mother and sisters despite their past which include the assassination of Elman’s father in 1996. In an effort to continue her father’s work and legacy, Ilwad and her mother, Fartuun Adan built the Elman peace center; a non-profitable organization with eight regional branches. Ilwad and her mother reintegrated child soldiers and civil war orphans into back Somali society.
“I am very happy to receive this recognition from Germany. The prize is a huge compliment for our team, and is Important because Germany is a valuable and reliable partner in many of our projects; Ilwad told DW”.
Among her projects include the highly respected “drop the gun, pick up the pen” educational program that has helped thousands of young people to adjust to civilian life. In her fight against gender-based violence in Somalia, Elman established another program called “Sister Somalia”; a point of contact for victims of gender-based violence. Elman’s expertise goes beyond the African continent, for two years, she was the youngest consultant for the United Nations Peace building fund. In 2019, she was named one of Africa’s 100 most influential voices. In 2020, Ilwad was in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The German Africa Prize have been awarded annually since 1993 by the German Africa Foundation funded by the German Foreign Ministry. The award is meant for exemplary figures from the African continent advocating for peace, democracy, arts and culture among other relevant sectors. The 2019 winner was Kenyan IT pioneer, Juliana Rotich.