Two young African women, Ilwad Elman and Hajer Sharief are among the finalists for the prestigious 2019 Nobel Peace Prize award.
The Nobel Peace Prize, first awarded in 1901, is said to honour “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses” according to the Nobel Prize organization.
What’s even more impressive is that both women are on the shortlist of the Director for the Peace Research Institute Oslo the list is thought to highlight the strongest contenders for the prize according to those who work in the field, reported Okay Africa.
According to the Kofi Annan Foundation, the two women, Elman, 29, and Sharief, 26, have been important catalysts for peacebuilding in their respective countries. Both are part of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s initiative Extremely Together, which brings together 10 young change-makers from around the world, as well as have appointed positions from former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
Elman was born in Mogadishu to two parents who were peace activists in their own right, Fartuun Adan and Elman Ali Ahmed. With no signs of the war easing in the early ’90s, Elman’s mother left with her and her sisters, eventually receiving asylum in Canada some years later. Her father was assassinated for assisting in the rehabilitation of youth co-opted by war. In 2010, at 19, Elman decided to return to Mogadishu and do what she could to further messages of peace. Since then she has led many social programs, particularly those focused on women’s rights in Somalia. Her many accomplishments include founding Somalia’s first rape crisis centre for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Sharief has been active in fighting for peace in Libya since 2011 when she witnessed the horrific events of the civil war. Shook by what she saw, that same year Sharief, then 19, started her own organization aimed at supporting a peaceful democratic transition called Together We Build It. The organization focuses on empowering women and youth in Libyan society. In 2013, Sharief co-initiated the 1325 Network project, a collection of organizations and activists across 30 cities in Libya who can work together to raise awareness of women’s role in building safe societies. She is currently studying law while.
There are 301 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 out of which 223 are individuals and 78 are organizations. 301 is the fourth-highest number of candidates ever. The current record of 376 candidates was reached in 2016.
The award will be given on December 10 in Oslo, Norway.