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.”

Pakistan in Focus: From Zainab Ali Khan, Founding Working Group Member

Zainab Ali Khan, Founding Working Group Member of Every Woman Treaty, is a Gender Specialist with over 10 years of work experience in the Development and Corporate sectors of Pakistan. Belonging to a conservative family, Ms Ali Khan had to fight for her right to a foreign education. She is the first woman in her family to be sent abroad for further education. Ms Ali Khan’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine (USA) in English Literature with a minor in Women’s Studies. She also holds a Master’s degree from the University of Toronto (Canada) in Women and Gender Studies. Ms Ali Khan was awarded full scholarships for both degrees. During her time at the Women and Gender Institute of University of Toronto, Ms Ali Khan extensively researched honor crimes in Pakistan for her dissertation entitled, “Honor Crimes in Pakistan: A Critical Analysis of the Zina and Qisas & Diyat Ordinances.”

Ali Khan’s work in the development sector of Pakistan includes working as a Documentation Specialist for a USAID funded Gender Equity Program worth USD 38 million – one of the biggest gender equity initiatives in the country. She has also worked for Women on Board, an initiative of the South Asian Federation of Exchanges that aims to address the acute imbalance of women professionals on corporate boards and higher management in Pakistan. She has also worked with AASA Consulting, a firm that specializes in social policy and human resource management.

She is the author of a number of publications including case studies, success stories, reports, and a magazine. As a women’s rights activist who feels very passionately about gender equality, Ms Ali Khan has had the opportunity to speak about women’s empowerment in Pakistan and internationally.

This week, she analyzes the mistreatment of women in Pakistan, but also why hope still remains.

“The rape, torture, and abduction of a woman doctor in the time of COVID-19, the honor killing of another that's conveniently been dubbed a suicide, and the harassment of women who speak their mind online - THIS from a nation whose founding father, Mohmmad Ali Jinnah, recognized that the power of the sword and the pen both pale in comparison to the power of women! However, even in these dark times, hope remains! Stories such as that of Tabassum Adnan remind us that the women of Pakistan have traded their bangles for fists. Kudos to Academy Award-winning Director, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, for shining a spotlight on these stories! In violent times, showing a mirror that reflects the misogyny of your culture is a heroic act in itself!"

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