Somalia: Zam-zam Abdi

My goal is to achieve peace and to advocate children’s rights in my country, Somalia, which was torn apart by clan warfare and civil war.

— Zam-zam Abdi

Zam-zam Abdi (28) completed her primary, secondary and university education in Mogadishu, Somalia. Now she is the coordinator of Somali Children Advocacy (SCA), which is mainly concerned with the rehabilitation of street children and child soldiers, children's rights, and peace building. Zam-zam works untiringly to achieve gender equity. She encourages Somali people to become involved in social work and to participate in the development of their community, regardless of their clan affiliation.

The civil war in the Somali capital Mogadishu had forced its people to leave their homes and seek shelter in other places. The streets were so unsafe that people could not walk around day and night. Houses were mainly occupied by gangs and rapists. Despite these perilous conditions, Zam-zam has managed to mobilize a group of 20 young men who held talks with the fighting militias and have peacefully succeeded in disarming many of the militia members and in reinstating peace and stability in some villages. The inhabitants of these villages benefited from Zam-zam’s initiative and formed a number of peace-restoring groups in order to protect their lives and properties. The peaceful atmosphere in the villages has helped people to go back to work and resume a normal life. These villages are now among the calmest areas of Mogadishu. However, Zam-zam is still encountering constant threats from the insurgent militias, who refuse to disarm. She was forced to move out of her house and to be on the run to save her life. Her office was attacked and all its furniture was looted. However, the threats did not weaken her determination to achieve peace. Zam-zam’s work has inspired many women, journalists and social workers in Somalia. She has pledged to preserve children’s rights and to achieve long-term improvements in the community. She takes a firm stand on serious issues such as Female Genital Circumcision (FGC). Thanks to her efforts many women have decided to inhibit this traditional practice in their families following a campaign Zam-zam launched in the local media to raise peoples’ awareness of this serious issue. She also supports women journalists against discrimination and defamation by private newspapers and radio stations. She helped to establish a number of associations that are concerned with defending the rights of women journalists.

Somali Children Advocacy (SCA)