Leyla Abdi Mohamed is the first female editor at Radio Ergo, a humanitarian broadcaster in Somalia which is run by International Media Support (IMS), based in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is a dedicated journalist and media professional with 11 years of experience in some of Somalia’s premier media houses, in roles including journalism, broadcasting, women’s leadership, and training. She has completed a master’s degree in International Relations & Diplomacy at Kenyatta University, Nairobi. She is also studying for a Postgraduate in Journalism Innovation and Leadership at the University of Central Lancashire, UK.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a journalist who helps vulnerable people in my country. Growing up in a war-torn country made me choose journalism. I was also eager to provide for my supportive yet poor family who were going through hardship in life. Starting to work at my age as a journalist or doing any career would be a surprise for many people but I believe I had to do it and never regretted a second.
Who were your biggest role models growing up?
I had no role model. Neither my family nor my country had a person who was worth emulating. I learned the hard way to be the best version of myself. I would also remember the efforts of my mother and the jobs she used to do to have her family fed, although she hadn’t had a career.
What is one thing that you would like to tell your younger self?
Don’t ever give up on what is best for you and be persistent to prove everyone wrong.
What was a life-changing moment you experienced that shaped you into the woman that you are today?
I beat the odds to become a confident and strong woman who overcame so many obstacles. I told my mother that I want to go to college to study journalism but she refused at first. She argued that I was too young and advised me to wait for two more years. I told her that she would see me getting monthly payments within or less than those years. I was being hopeful and believed that one day, it will be worth it. Seeking higher education was life-changing and one of the greatest things that I have ever done in my life.
What made you pursue your current career?
I realized that doing stories about people’s lives in Somalia could show the rest of the world that regardless of what happens in one of the world’s most unstable countries, life always continues. I also saw journalism as a pathway to change my life, and it definitely did.
What is a typical day like for you?
Busy. Be at the office at 9am and not know when the day finished and that could say more about how busy I get most of the working days.
What has been the biggest obstacle in your professional life so far and how did you manage to overcome it?
As I grew up, I was very passionate about journalism and the art of storytelling, nevertheless as a young woman growing up in Somalia the chance of getting a successful career in journalism was always minuscule. In my country, many young girls drop out of school or give up on their careers due to social and financial constraints, however, I have drawn my determination from notable women in the world that have become successful in different areas of life as well as my path to a rewarding career. I had no financial support from my family but my parent’s prayers removed all obstacles for me. I am grateful for them and thank Allah.
Which Somali woman inspires you and why?
I can think of Ilhan Omar and so many women who worked hard to get where they are now and still doing wonderful job for their community.
What advice would you give to a person pursuing your chosen career?
Seek new ways to improve your skills and stay at the right side of any evolving profession. Chase your dreams until you die and that would make you a successful person.
How would you like people to remember you?
As an honest person who was passionate about her career and who loved helping people.