Edna Adan Ismail

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Edna Adan Ismail
Edna Adan Ismail and student nurses c. 2007
Born8 September 1937 (1937-09-08) (age 83)
EducationBorough Polytechnic, currently London South Bank University
OccupationNurse midwife, activist
Known foractivism for the abolition of female genital mutilation (FGM)
Spouse(s)Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal

Edna Adan Ismail (Somali: Edna Aadan Ismaaciil ama Adna Aadan Ismaaciil) (born 8 September 1937) is a nurse midwife, activist and was the first female Foreign Minister of Somaliland[1] from 2003 to 2006. She previously served as Somaliland's Minister of Family Welfare and Social Development.

She is the director and founder of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa and an activist and pioneer in the struggle for the abolition of female genital mutilation. She is also President of the Organization for Victims of Torture.[2]

She was married to Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal who was the prime minister of the State of Somaliland five days prior to Trust Territory of Somalia's independence and later the Somali Republic (1960-1960) and (1967–69) and President of Somaliland (1993–2002).

Early life[edit]

Edna Adan was born in Hargeisa, British Somaliland on 8 September 1937,[3] the daughter of a prominent Somali medical doctor.[4] She was one of five children born to her mother, but two died at the time of delivery.[5] At the time girls weren't educated in Somaliland, but her father hired a tutor for some local boys and she learned to read and write with them. She later went to a school in Djibouti where her aunt was a teacher.[6] When she was eight years old, she underwent FGM. It was arranged by her mother and grandmother when her father was on a business trip; when he returned he was furious.[5]

Wanting to prevent other women from undergoing the same trauma she did, she trained as a nurse and midwife in the United Kingdom at the Borough Polytechnic, now London South Bank University.[5] She later married Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Egal, a Somali politician who was elected Prime Minister of Somalia in 1967.

She is said to be "the first Somali girl" to study in Britain,[7] Somaliland's first qualified nurse-midwife[7][8] and the first Somali woman to drive.[7]

Hospital work[edit]

In 1980 Edna Adan began building a hospital in Somaliland's capital of Hargeisa, but was forced to leave the country due to the beginning of the Somali Civil War in 1981.[9]

She returned to Somaliland and built from scratch a maternity hospital, which she continues to run. The Edna Adan Maternity Hospital officially opened on 9 March 2002, in land donated to her by the regional government at a site formerly used as a rubbish dump. The region lacked trained nurses to staff the hospital[10] – as most had either fled the country or been killed during the civil war – and so Edna recruited more than 30 candidates and began training them in 2000 while the hospital was still under construction. The hospital now has two operating theatres, laboratory, library, computer centre and a complete wing dedicated to training nurses and midwives. As of 2018, the hospital had 200 staff and 1500 students.[6]

The mission of the Edna Adan Hospital is to help to improve the health of the local inhabitants, in particular the high rate of maternal and infant mortality. The facility is a non-profit making charity and a midwifery teaching hospital that is also undertaking the training of student nurses and Assistant Laboratory Technicians.

Charity work[edit]

Edna Adan's work is supported by charities in the United Kingdom and the United States which help her raise support and awareness to train additional midwives and fight FGM in Somaliland.[11][12]

Edna Adan Presenting at TEDxAmsterdam 2019

Government work[edit]

Edna Adan Ismail was the only female minister in the Somaliland government until July 2006, when she was replaced as Foreign Minister by former Minister of Information and National Guidance Abdillahi Mohamed Dualeh. In addition to her work in government, she continues to be a voice for the Somaliland peoples' democratic will.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Edna Adan Ismail was a recipient of the AMANITARE 2002 Annual Award for her efforts to open a private maternity hospital in Somaliland in 1998.[13]

In recognition of her lifelong contribution to humanitarian work, the name of Edna Adan Ismail was added to the Medical Mission Hall of Fame,[14] University of Toledo, Ohio, in March 2007. She has an Honorary Doctoral Degree from Clark University in Massachusetts. She was made an Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University in Wales in 2008.[15] In 2018, she was granted an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.[16]

In 2012 Edna Adan was featured in the documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, premiering on PBS 1 and 2 October. The series introduces women and girls living under very difficult circumstances and bravely fighting to challenge them. The Half the Sky PBS TV series is produced by Show of Force along with Fugitive Films. She was the castaway in the long-running series Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 on 22 October 2017.[17]

She has been called "The Muslim Mother Teresa" by Kate Grant, CEO of the Fistula Foundation.[18]

In 2018, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from London South Bank University.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (2 June 2009). "No Winner Seen in Somalia's Battle With Chaos". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  2. ^ Topping, Alexandra (23 June 2014). "Somaliland's leading lady for women's rights: 'It is time for men to step up'". The Guardian.
  3. ^ Skaine, Rosemary (2008). Women Political Leaders in Africa. McFarlane. p. 54. ISBN 9780786432998.
  4. ^ "125th Anniversary - Get Involved - My Cardiff". Cf.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "Why giving birth in the U.S. is surprisingly deadly". National Geographic. 13 December 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  6. ^ a b c University, London South Bank. "Edna Adan Ismail, Honorary Doctor". www.lsbu.ac.uk. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Kristof, Nicholas D.; Sheryl WuDunn (2010). Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Vintage Books. pp. 124–. ISBN 978-0-307-38709-7.
  8. ^ Somali Maternity Care Archived 14 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Who is Edna Adan". Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Partner Spotlight: Edna Adan University Hospital, Somaliland". Direct Relief.
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Carson, Mary (12 December 2016). "Edna Adan: 'With my army of midwives, fewer girls will go through FGM'". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  13. ^ Sheldon, Kathleen E., 1952- (2005). Historical dictionary of women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-5331-0. OCLC 56967121.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Leather, Andrew; Ismail, Edna Adan; Ali, Roda; Abdi, Yasin Arab; Abby, Mohamed Hussein; Gulaid, Suleiman Ahmed; Walhad, Said Ahmed; Guleid, Suleiman; Ervine, Ian Maxwell; Lowe-Lauri, Malcolm; Parker, Michael; Adams, Sarah; Datema, Marieke; Parry, Eldryd (2006). "Working together to rebuild health care in post-conflict Somaliland". The Lancet. 368 (9541): 1119–1125. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69047-8. PMID 16997666. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  15. ^ "Annual Review 2008" (PDF). Cardiff University. p. 15 of 18. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Fellows honoris causa of the RCOG". Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  17. ^ Edna Adan Ismail’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ appearance
  18. ^ Kate Grant (1 October 2012). "The Muslim Mother Theresa". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 1 October 2012.

External links[edit]