This year’s nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize are out and among the names are Somalian social rights activist Ilwad Elman and Libyan law student Hajer Sharief.
Both are a part of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Extremely Together initiative, which brings together 10 young activists from the world.
As of 2018, only twelve Nobel Prize laureates have been Muslims, more than half in the 21st century. Seven of the twelve laureates have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, while three have been for the sciences.
The recipient of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics, Abdus Salam, was a member of the Ahmadiyya community of Pakistan. Aziz Sancar is the second Turkish Nobel laureate and was awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry in the field of molecular biology in 2015.
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.
Ilwad Elman is originally from Mogadishu, Somalia, born to parents who were both involved in humanitarian and peace work themselves, Fartuum Adan and Elman Ali Ahmed.
While her mother, alongside herself and her sisters, received asylum in Canada, her father was assassinated for being involved in youth rehabilitation and humanitarian peace work after the war of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Returning to Somalia in 2010 at the age of 19, Elman worked tirelessly in both the humanitarian and women’s rights sectors within Somalia to continue the work of her father as well as to bring her own unique courage and strength for peace in her country.
One of the many achievements of Elman’s work in Somalia is founding Somalia’s first rape crisis center for survivors of gender-based violence and abuse.