Sudan: Saeeda Mohd Bedri Mohd Abu Hadia

My goal is to make education a right for every Sudanese girl. I also work towards women's empowerment and development.

— Saeeda Mohd Bedri Mohd Abu Hadia

Saeeda Mohd Badri (34) was born in Sinkat, Port Sudan, where she completed her early education. In 1995 she obtained an MSc from the College of Management, Ahfad University for Women in Khartoum. Saeeda is now a gender and development analyst in Eastern Sudan, addressing women’s issues, particularly combating female genital circumcision among the Beja nomads and in other primitive areas. This work links her to activists on this issue nationally and worldwide. She helps to organize women’s groups in the Red Sea area to address their common strategic issues and to participate in decision-making.

The Eastern Part of Sudan, where Saeeda works with the Beja nomads, is an absolutely tribal society. The climate of the Red Sea Hills is arid and dry; the area is also on the front line of the eastern conflict zone. The status of women there is very unfortunate, and they have no participation in society. Female genital circumcision is a very sensitive and challenging issue in the Sudanese traditional communities. The dominant culture and traditions stand against endeavors to change the local people’s social habits, which they consider part of their ethos and value systems. When Saeeda embarked on her campaign against female genital excision she faced austere resistance from tribal leaders, who looked at her efforts as a serious threat to their belief systems and cultural identity. She has overcome these challenges with support from her father, mother and other like-minded people who were determined to bring justice and peace to the community. Her work was greatly inspired and impacted by the thoughts of her father, who was always very supportive of her standpoint. He was an unswerving activist in support of girls’ education and women’s rights, though he himself did not receive a formal education. Saeeda and her supporting group have managed to vocalize women’s exigent issues in decision-making spheres and to launch many campaigns to defend women’s rights. She has risked her life many times while getting on with her work, seeking to change people's concepts and attitudes towards women in rural areas.

Abu Hadia Society (AHS)