Somalia: Elmi Asha Hagi Amin

Have one voice, and one interest as women.

— Elmi Asha Hagi Amin

Born in 1962 in the Galgaduud region of Somalia, Asha Hagi Elmi had more opportunities than many of her fellow countrywomen. Since the formation of Save the Somali Women and Children (Sswc), Asha Elmi has distinguished herself as a peace activist. She has invested her education and skills to advocate for women’s participation in decision-making and to empower women from all walks of life. Asha Elmi has been an important liaison with the Somali peace process teams.

Asha Elmi firmly believes that women’s contributions will advance peace and political processes and ensure Somalia’s development as a stable, democratic and competitive state. For more than a decade she has devoted herself to advocating for Somali women to exercise their rights in peace negotiation and political decision-making. She has worked incessantly in pursuing viable peace for her country, engendering the peace process and promoting women’s rights and living conditions in Somalia. In 1986 she completed an economics degree at the Somalia National University (SNU), and by 1991 she had obtained a master's degree in management and organisational development and another master's in business administration from the United States International University (Usiu) in Nairobi, Kenya. As a student, her leadership skills were visible. She was elected chairperson of the SNU Student Association. As a post-graduate student, she accepted a position in the Somali government’s ministry of finance but served only for a short period. Her commitment to peace and gender issues compelled her to move to the non-governmental organizations sector. In 1992, Asha Elmi, together with a core group of women intellectuals comprising a cross-section of the community, made a commitment that eventually became Save the Somali Women and Children. Ashas vision for Somalia flickered and then flourished despite the constant unaccommodating and indeed hostile conditions. She not only believed that women could contribute to the peace process but that they would be essential to developing a sustainable peace agreement for their country’s future. In its early stages Sswc’s advocacy program was a cause of annoyance to the warlords.

Save the Somali Women and Children (Sswc)