December Issue 2014

Page 39

women must endure. The right to family planning, sexual and reproductive rights, divorce, inheritance, and property ownerships are women rights issues that are extremely poignant but ignored and inadequately addressed.

AE: Please share one of your most transformative experiences since working with Sister Somalia. IE: Sister Somalia takes in women and girls at the point of emergency, and provides life saving intervention. We nurture, educate, empower and equip survivors with the necessary life, economic and emotional skills to rebuild and reclaim their lives. I am most proud when one of the survivors we supported becomes an ambassador for change in her community. She begins to refer others in the same situation she was once in to the center, and begins to lead trainings to mentor other women. She becomes a foot soldier in the fight for womenâ€&#x;s justice in Somalia and lives her life knowing that this tragic incident happened to her but does not own her any longer. This transformation is one I have seen over and over again which humbles me incredibly but also drives me to do more and be more. In a mere three years we have been able to

expand Sister Somalia to rural and urban areas alike in three different regions of Somalia, which is huge. We have worked in Al-Shabaab controlled areas, government controlled areas and areas controlled by regional authorities that are not bound by any formal courts or penal codes. All of this is possible and exasperated by the network of women

We plan on continuing to expand, continue to engage with men, religious leaders, and the State on the preventative side of the issue.

who continue the work we have initiated and many of which are survivors of violence themselves.

Somalia will fail. Our goal is to prevent sexual violence from happening by breaking the cycle and creating community based responses for sustainable solutions.

AE: What future goals do you foresee Sister Somalia achieving? IE: We have already begun developing models for responding to sexual based violence in conflict, hoping that these tools can be of use to countries with similar context as Somalia for emulation. We have expanded our services to decentralize from the city, and since the first crisis center in launched in 2011 we have opened doors for many other NGOs to follow.

If we do not focus on making the environment safer with protective mechanisms at the social and policy level, Sister

AE: How can people get involved and help support the cause? IE: Sexual violence is a global issue and we need global solutions and allies from around the world to achieve this. Our website shares our contact details and how to get involved. []