Hessian Peace Prize 2022

Somali-Canadian human rights activist Ilwad Elman will receive the Hessian Peace Prize 2022 for her work on behalf of victims of gender-based violence and for peace in Somalia. This was announced by the Hessian Parlia­ment in a press conference on February 13, 2023. The award ceremony will take place on March 8, 2023 in the Hessian Parliament.

With Ilwad Elman, the State of Hesse honors a perso­nality who is committed to the survivors of gender-based violence and peace in Somalia. In particular, the award recog­nizes Ms. Elman's tireless efforts to engage various victim groups in peace nego­­tiations to achieve a sustain­able and stable peace.

Ilwad Elman was born in Moga­­dishu, Somalia on December 22, 1989. She migrated with her mother and two sisters in the 1990s, first to Kenya, then to Canada. In 2010, she returned to Somalia to work for a peace process in the East African country as the civil war continued. She still pursues this work today, including in the NGO Elman Peace, which was founded by her parents. Elman Peace is committed to human rights, gender justice, protect­ion of civilians, peace and social issues.

Ms. Elman is the founder of “Sister Somalia”, the first crisis center for survivors of sexual violence in Soma­lia. The initiative com­bines culturally appro­priate trauma therapies and educa­­tional programs. At the same time, Ms. Elman advo­­cates for surviv­ors of gender-based and gender-specific violence to be involved in peace­building. Ilwad Elman further serves as a founding member of the “Advisory Committee for Research­ing Gender Based Violence Social Norms” in Somalia and South Sudan, an advisor in the “Women Waging Peace Network for In­clusive Security,” and a member of the Kofi Annan Foun­dation's “Extremely Together” initiative, which seeks to prevent violent extrem­ism world­wide through work with youth.

In 2014, Ilwad Elman graduated from the White House Fellow­­ship for Young African Leaders, esta­blished by President Barack Obama, and that same year was named a Youth Amb­assador to Somalia for Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict. In August 2016, Elman was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as an Expert Advisor on Youth, Peace and Security and tasked with advising on a study to develop a strategy for UN Security Council Resolution 2250. In 2018, Elman Peace initiated the Peace by Africa network with the UN Develop­­ment Programme.

In December 2022, Ilwad Elman received the Right­­Livelihood Prize, also known as the “Alter­­native Nobel Prize,” together with her mother Fartuun Adan. In 2020, she received the German Africa Prize.