Ilwad Elman - OkayAfrica

OS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Honoree Ilwad Elman attends the 2017 BET International Awards Presentation at Microsoft Theater on June 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for BET

Somali Activist Ilwad Elman Wins Prestigious 2020 German Africa Prize

Somali activist Ilwad Elman is this year's winner of the German Africa Prize for her humanitarian work in rehabilitating child soldiers and sexual violence survivors.

Somali peace activist Ilwad Elman has reportedly won the coveted 2020 German Africa Prize for her continued humanitarian work in her homeland. According to DW, Elman received the award in person from German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last night. Elman has received the award for her work with child soldiers and survivors of sexual violence in Somalia. The news comes as a welcomed reprieve for those in the African diaspora for whom Elman has been an advocate since the age of 17. The young peace and justice advocate took to Twitter to share the news.

Elman was born in Somalia in 1990 and comes from a family of human rights activist. Her mother, Fartuun Adan, fled the country with Elman at the age following rising violent civil unrest that resulted in the violent death of her father. Somali peace activist Elman Ali Ahmed, was assassinated in 1996 in Mogadishu leaving Adan to raise three daughters in Canada. Ahmed's legacy beckoned Elman at the age of 17 to return to Somalia and reform the youth, particularly former child soldiers.

Although Elman's name is most prominent in the headlines for winning this award, her mother is a joint recipient of the award. Adan kept the stories of her husband's work alive burning in her daughter. "I always knew I had to pick up the pieces, but I also had to raise my kids," says Adan who is now aged 51. "I always told them I'm going back after they reached high school."

Elman heads the Elman Peace Organisation which was established around Elman's birth. The organisation shelters survivors of conflict and harnesses leadership skills in both women and men. She is an advocate for the Kofi Annan Foundation's latest initiative called Extremely Together. She serves as the chair of the Child Protection Gender Based Violence Case Management Group in Mogadishu and is a founding member of the Advisory Committee for Researching Gender-Based Violence Social Norms in Somalia and South Sudan. She was nominated and shortlisted for the Noble Peace Prize in 2019.

Somalia has been under civil wars since 1991. The country on the horn of Africa has experienced civil unrest due to al-Shabab terrorist attacks. The civil war had devastated the country and severe famine had ravaged it further, leaving approximately 500,000 Somalis in displaced persons camps. Somali youth diaspora are reportedly returning to the country even though government corruption is reportedly rising and regional power struggles remain.