Two Campaigners Who Inspire Us on the International Day of Peace
Leyla Hussein. Credit: Reka Nyari.
Today, 21 September, marks the International Day of Peace, a global campaign to promote respect, safety and dignity for all. To honour the values put forward by the day, we’re celebrating a couple of people who work tirelessly to achieve a more peaceful world – and we don’t mean folk who rock daisy chains and dance around Stonehenge or whatever – we’re talking about activists who bring about a more peaceful planet by fighting ills like discrimination and injustice.
Credit: Chris Beckett via Flickr.
Leyla Hussein is a psychotherapist and activist who has spent the past decade campaigning to end female genital mutilation. In 2010, she founded the nonprofit Daughters of Eve, which works to eliminate FGM, protect young women and girls who are at risk from the practice, and support those who have already been victims of it.
In 2014, the efforts of Daughters of Eve led to Leyla being included in a BBC list of Britain’s most influential women. Her documentary, The Cruel Cut, charted her family’s experience with FGM in Somalia. It was nominated for a BAFTA that same year.
Leyla works with numerous nonprofits that fight to eradicate FGM. Her activism has led to debates in Parliament and greater commitments from law enforcement to clamp down on the harrowing practice. A writer, Leyla has contributed to the Guardian on a regular basis. Her yearly open letters to her teenage daughter, Feyrus, are particular gems, as they posit a more open, equal, and peaceful society:
‘As I’m reflecting on our 2016 I’m realising that as crazy as the year was, you and how you dealt with the ups and downs was the best part of that. The aim of this letter was to give you hope after such a disappointing year for women but I’ve realised it’s the other way around. You give me hope with your opinions and values, that you give without apology. I applaud that…We will continue to fight into this year and beyond.’
Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Following that big election in the US that you probably heard about at the end of last year, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali American to be elected to a state’s house of representatives.
The 34-year-old, who came to America as a refugee twenty years ago, is a state legislator in Minnesota. While Ilhan didn’t exactly campaign on a ticket of ‘outright world peace’, we’re including her in this blog due to the issues she does fight for: namely, access to education, civil rights, poverty reduction, a higher minimum wage and free university tuition for students from low income families – all things that suggest less conflict, more calm.
She’s also Director of Policy for the Women Organizing Women Network, which encourages immigrant women to become engaged citizens and community leaders. And nothing spells peace like fostering understanding and dialogue within your own neighbourhood.
If you want us to write about any activist who is doing incredible and vital work, shout them out in the Facebook comments.