Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman Named Aurora Prize Laureates

(Seattle, WA, USA) The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative named Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman of the Elman Peace Center in Somalia as the 2020 Aurora Prize Laureates. Adan is a Founding Board Member of Every Woman Treaty, and Elman currently serves on our Steering Committee. The following is a statement from Every Woman Treaty CEO Lisa Shannon, who cofounded the Sister Somalia program at Elman Peace – the first rape crisis center in Somalia.

“Gratitude in Action. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative advances and recognizes this principle as central to humanitarian work, and as the world will now see: it is central to the world-changing work my sisters Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman continue to do in Somalia.

“In 2011, Fartuun welcomed me to Mogadishu. We met with sexual violence survivors, and I supported the launch of Sister Somalia - the Elman Peace Center's program for rape survivors. While post-conflict and conflict-related sexual violence disproportionately affects women and girls, Fartuun and Ilwad persevere, undaunted by statistics or the constant threats.

“For many women around the world, there is no easy path to justice. Laws, government systems, and social norms favor perpetrators. In courtrooms, media, communities, and homes across the world, female victims of violence are often blamed, ignored, and not believed, entrenching the world in a system of silence and impunity.

“I have had the great privilege of watching, up close, Ilwad's extraordinary life work unfold, as she shunned the comfortable life, trading it for courage beyond measure, stepping into being a fierce advocate for the world's most marginalized, combating violence at its roots, through Elman's extraordinary work ending violent extremism, and violence against women.

“Ilwad is the African leader of the future: Bold, compassionate, unrelenting in her work for every human being to realize human dignity and flourishing.

“I have also seen first-hand these women grapple with the deepest loss: That of daughter/ sister/ partner Almaas Elman last November. They carry on her spirit, and that of their father, through their tenacious commitment to human rights, safety, and dignity for all.

“Their family's work stretches back over nearly 30 years - work that transforms the lives of Somali youth and embraces nonviolence and peacebuilding. Thankful to see recognition of their leadership and their generosity with the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.”

REMINDER: Covid-19 and Red Shoes Virtual Event

Watch our Virtual Event from May 11th at 5:00 PM GMT / 1:00 PM EDT.

Experts from Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, and Afghanistan will discuss the intersecting pandemics: COVID-19 and Violence Against Women and Girls.

World leaders have long been aware of the profound impacts of violence against women and girls: It was a pandemic already affecting one in three women in her lifetime - more than a billion people - before the current COVID-19 crisis. This violence predictably increased as women and girls are forced to shelter in place with their abusers.

Hotlines are receiving a spike in calls for help, home invasions and sexual violence are on the rise in some countries, some hotlines are longer staffed as governments shift their focus to the Coronavirus.

From our homes, during this global lockdown, we join Mexican architect, artist, and activist Elina Chauvet. Her installations of red shoes call for justice and systems change in remembrance of murdered and missing women.

We photograph red shoes in solidarity with those who are surviving violence this minute, locked inside with their abusers throughout this global crisis. Join us on Zoom by clicking here at 1:00 PM EDT. Send your photos to RedShoes@everywoman.org. Join us in posting them on your social channels on June 4, 2020, during our Virtual March. Tag us, and share the hashtags #RedShoes and #EveryWoman.

Honoring Mothers and Mother Figures


In this week’s Must Reads: Invitation to Every Woman Virtual Event. Pregnancy Resource Hub from Every Mother Counts. New UNFPA projections predict calamitous impact on women’s health as COVID-19 pandemic continues. In Mexico, three sisters – two nurses and a hospital administrator – are found murderedYoung mother from Navajo Nation dies from COVID-19 after organizing safe practices for her community. Faulty masks for pregnant women in Japan.

1. Invitation to Virtual Event: On Monday, May 11th at 5:00 PM GMT / 1:00 PM EDT Experts from Pakistan, Nigeria, Russia, and Afghanistan will discuss the intersecting pandemics: COVID-19 and Violence Against Women and Girls. Forced to shelter in place with their abusers, women and girls are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 global lockdowns. Hotlines are receiving a spike in calls for help, home invasions and sexual violence are on the rise in some countries, some hotlines are longer staffed as governments focus on the Coronavirus. We will also discuss our global week of solidarity with survivors around the world inspired by Mexican artist Elina Chauvet's Red Shoes protest beginning on June 4, 2020. Join via Zoom.

2. Mexico: The Coahuila Ministry of Public Security reports that three sisters who worked for the Social Security Institute (IMSS) were found strangled to death in Torreón on Friday. SAY THEIR NAMES: According to the authorities, the victims were nurses Cecilia Pérez, 48, and Dora Pérez, 56, and 59-year-old Araceli Pérez who worked as a secretary for the IMSS. (Mexico News Daily)

Related: Three sisters who worked in Mexico's government hospital system were found murdered in the northern border state of Coahuila, stirring new alarm in a country where attacks on health care workers have occurred across the nation amid the coronavirus outbreak. Two were nurses, the other a hospital administrator. (New York Times)

3. Navajo Nation. At least 70 Navajo Nation members have died from COVID-19. Among them was Valentina Blackhorse, a 28 year old mother and community leader. She left behind a daughter named Poet and a legacy of fierce dedication to her culture and her community. (NPR) (NYT Obituary)

4. Pandemic threatens achievement of the Transformative Results committed to by UNFPA. More than 47 million women could lose access to contraception, leading to 7 million unintended pregnancies in the coming months. Additional impacts on family planning, Ending Gender-based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage (UNFPA) (UNFPA Report)

5. Faulty masks for pregnant women are latest problem for Japan's government. Some 300,000 coronavirus masks sent to pregnant women in Japan as part of a government handout have been found to be faulty, media reported on Tuesday, the latest in a string of complaints about how the government has dealt with the epidemic. (Reuters)


  • From Every Mother Counts: Information and Resource Hub related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic for mothers-to-be, physicians, doulas, midwives, and caregivers. (Every Mother Counts)
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)


Must Reads and an Invitation

In this week's Must Reads: How to exist in a world that seeks to erase women. Rights activists in Kenya have raised alarm after indications that gender-based-violence may be on the rise with restrictions on movement due to the coronavirus. Domestic violence assault followed by arson and mass shooting by perpetrator disguised as a RCMP officer in Nova Scotia. UK Pharmacies to provide safe spaces during coronavirus lockdown after rise in calls. Women mobilize to prevent COVID-19 in crowded Rohingya refugee campsCEDAW Call for ContributionsInvitation to join Every Woman Treaty on May 11, 2020 via Zoom. 

1. Rafia Zakaria: How to exist in a world that seeks to erase women. "The transformation we ultimately need as a society is (to get to a place) where it does not occur to men that they have the right or desire to harm women." (CNN)

2. Kenya: Agnes Odhiambo, a researcher on sub-Saharan Africa with the women's rights division of Human Rights Watch, "Now this is the situation that COVID has created where people are behind closed doors, there is no money. It’s a perfect environment for people who are abusive to even be more abusive or even for those who are usually not abusive to become abusive because of that stress, where they feel they need to exert their dominance in an environment where they are feeling kind of emasculated.” (VOA)

3. Victim of domestic violence aids police in Nova Scotia.  Following a domestic violence incident, a woman somehow escaped and emerged from hiding at daybreak. She called 911 and informed the police the perptrator was in possession of a fully marked and equipped replica RCMP vehicle and was wearing an RCMP uniform. The perpetrator set multiple homes and buildings on fire, and targeted more than 20 people in a shooting spree. (National Post)

Related: Women face particular challenges due to gun access, as women are five times more likely to be killed if their partner owns a gun. Despite such danger, the US recently watered down the definition of domestic violence to include only physical harm at the level of a felony, excluding psychological abuse, coercion, and manipulation. (Mediators Without Borders)

4. United Kingdom: Boots Pharmacies to provide safe spaces during coronavirus lockdown after rise in calls. Many victims who are now unable to seek help while at home trapped with their abusers will still be expected to shop for food and medicine, and there have been calls for safe space initiatives to be introduced in supermarkets and more pharmacies. Multiple support services for domestic abuse have reported a surge in calls to helplines since the lockdown was imposed, while the Metropolitan police said it was making an average of about 100 arrests a day for offences linked to abuse in the home. (The Guardian)

5. Bangladesh: To counter the gendered risks and barriers for women and girls in Cox’s Bazar, Rohingya women leaders self-mobilized, forming networks and raising awareness on COVID-19 across all camps. The rise in domestic violence and other forms of violence against women as a result of social tensions and panic in the camps is another key concern for these women. Global estimates show that in crisis settings, more than 70 percent of women experience gender-based violence. (UN Women)


  •  Call for Contributions: The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is currently elaborating a General Recommendation on trafficking of women and girls in the  context of global migration. The Committee decided to invite all interested parties to submit contributions in writing for the "Draft General Recommendation on TWGCGM".After a thorough and due consideration of contributions provided, only the Committee will decide on the contents of the final version of the General Recommendation on Trafficking of Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration. (UN OHCHR)


  • InvitationJoin us online May 11, 2020 via Zoom at 1:00PM EDT / GMT -4). We will be discussing our global week of solidarity with survivors around the world inspired by Mexican artist Elina Chauvet's Red Shoes protest beginning on June 4, 2020. In 2009, Chauvet staged her first art installation of red shoes - representing the bloodshed women face in Mexico because of femicide, domestic, and sexualized violence. Her installations have inspired activists around the world  - join us to hear a special message from Elina Chauvet and take a stand in solidarity. (Every Woman Treaty)

  • The COVID-19 pandemic will likely have adverse and disproportionate effects on women and girls around the world, particularly in the rise of gender-based violence. CARE is working to prevent and respond to this issue in 24 countries. “We know that when emergencies hit, women and girls come last,” says CARE’s Humanitarian Policy Director Susannah Friedman. (CARE)

  • “A Difficult Client”: Lynn’s Story of Captivity, Non-State Torture, and Human Trafficking by Her Husband. (International Journal of Advanced Nursing Education and Research)

  • Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima to receive 2020 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Born in 1974, Jineth Bedoya Lima’s reporting has focused on the armed conflict and peace process in Colombia and on sexual violence against women. Ms Bedoya Lima was herself a victim of sexual violence in 2000 when she was abducted and raped in connection with an investigation into arms trafficking she was conducting for daily newspaper El Espectador. Three years later, while working for the daily El Tiempo, she was kidnapped by militants of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

    “The courage and commitment of Jineth Bedoya Lima, doubly exposed to unacceptable risks as a woman and as a journalist, inspire profound respect,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “We need the work of professional and independent journalists.”

    “The present pandemic highlights the vital role journalists play in providing all of us with access to reliable, in some cases vital, information in crises situations,” Ms. Azoulay added. “It also shows the many risks journalists face everywhere in the world in the exercise of their profession.” (UNESCO)

  • Nobel Women: Tune in Monday, May 4th at 11 am ET  for a Facebook Live conversation with outgoing UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, to talk risks and challenges faced by women human rights defenders and how the global community can act to protect them.
  • Listen: FiLiA Podcast with Simi Kamal. Simi Kamal is head of grants at the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund. Simi joins FiLiA to discuss her experience and work as part of the Every Woman Treaty - a campaign to end violence against women and girls worldwide. (FiLiA)
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)