#IWD2021 The Trailblazing Somali Women That We Are Celebrating Today

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Choose To Challenge”. Below is a list of Somali women who overcame the challenges in their lives and respective fields in order to make our world a better place for future generations of Somali women.


  • Poly Styrene

Marianne Joan Elliott-Said (3 July 1957 – 25 April 2011), also known as Poly Styrene, was a Somali-British artist who was the frontwoman for the punk rock band X-Ray Spex. Poly Styrene was the first woman of colour to front a rock band in the United Kingdom. The late singer’s daughter, Celeste Ball, has co-written and co-directed a documentary about her mother’s life titled Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché which was released on the 5th of March.


  • Ramla Ali

Ramla Ali is the first female Somali boxer in history to compete professionally. In 2017, Ramla decided to represent Somalia internationally and helped set up a national boxing federation in the country. Ramla is the first boxer in history to have represented Somalia at the Women’s World Championships which took place in 2018 in India. The British-Somali athlete has voiced her aspirations to represent Somalia during the next Olympics, which would make her the first boxer in history to ever represent the country at the games.

Image via Twitter

  • Mama Malyun

Malyun Ali, also known as Mama Malyun, is a Somali social media personality who resides in the United States of America. She is a well-known YouTuber who tackles and addresses topics that are considered taboo in the Somali community. Mama Malyun has faced considerable threats and cyberbullying by Somalis for choosing to speak out about topic such as sexual abuse.


  • LeadNow!

LeadNow Somalia is a grass-root movement started by Somali women dedicated to increasing women’s participation in Somali politics. They aim to ensure fair gender representation in public offices and spaces of leadership across the country. The movement consists of a broad network of women including, women’s rights advocates, female politicians, civil society members, technocrats and elders who are ready to engage the relevant stakeholders in Somali politics. For more information, visit their website here.


  • Dr. Hawa Abdi Dhiblawe

The late Dr. Hawa Abdi Dhiblawe, or “Mama Hawa” as she was affectionately known to locals, became Somalia’s first female gynaecologist in 1971. In 1983, Dr. Hawa set up the Rural Health Development Organization (which was renamed The Hawa Abdi Foundation in 2007) in the southern Lower Shabelle region. This clinic offered free obstetrician services to women in need. In 2012, Dr. Hawa was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her decades of humanitarian work in Somalia.

Photo credit: Pieter Hugo

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