Filsan Abdi

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Filsan Abdullahi
Born1992 (age 29–30)
Occupation
  • Peace activist

Filsan Abdullahi Ahmed[1] (born 1992), also called Filsan Abdi,[2] is an Ethiopian activist and politician from the Somali Region. She is a founder of the Nabad project and satellite television station for promoting communication and peace in Somali Region and between the Somali and Oromo communities.[2][3] She was appointed the federal Ethiopian Minister of Women, Children and Youth on 12 March 2020,[4][5] becoming the youngest person in the Abiy Ahmed cabinet.[6] Filsan resigned from the Cabinet in September 2021. In December 2021, she stated to The Washington Post that she had resigned in relation to Abiy's handling of the Tigray War.[7]

Childhood and education[edit]

Filsan Abdullahi was born in 1991/1992 (age 30–31) in Dire Dawa. Her parents are from Jigjiga, the capital of Somali Region in Ethiopia.[2] Filsan's mother is a businesswoman and her father a petroleum engineer who worked most of his life in Saudi Arabia.[8] Filsan studied and lived in Addis Ababa where she obtained a degree in leadership and management from Unity University, and to England where she obtained a degree in communications science at the University of Hertfordshire.[2] She later worked as a speech and language therapist in England for several years.[9]

Nadad project/TV[edit]

Filsan created the Nabad ("peace") project as a response to the violence in Somali Region in August 2018 that surrounded the resignation of Abdi Mohamoud Omar, the president of Somali Region. Filsan saw Abdi as having been a dictator. The Nabad project, organising panel discussions in both Addis Ababa and Jigjiga, aimed to encourage communication among Somali region residents to "calm down all the flaming confusion and misconception". In her 2019 interview with Addis Standard, Filsan described the Somali people living in the Somali Region as wishing to be accepted as fully Ethiopian citizens, and in her view, unmotivated by the idea of a Greater Somalia. The Nabad project communicated extensively with the Qeerroos, including Jawar Mohammed, while remaining an independent project.[8]

One of the themes of Nabad was that, according to Filsan, the Hego youth armed by Abdi should be seen as having been brainwashed, not as enemies. Nabad organised community meetings with Hegos. Another theme was Oromo–Somali dialogue as part of a conflict resolution process.[3]

As part of the Nabad project, Filsan launched a satellite television stated, Nabad TV. In October 2019, she was the only woman head of a satellite television station according to BBC News. At the time, the station broadcast six hours daily in Somali.[1]

Ministership[edit]

In early 2020, Filsan held the status assigned by the Ethiopian federal government of a Goodwill Ambassador.[3]

Filsan became the Ethiopian federal Minister of Women, Children and Youth on 12 March 2020,[4] replacing Yalem Tsegaye, who was last Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) member to be purged from the Abiy Ahmed cabinet.[5] Filsan became the youngest person in the cabinet.[6]

Tigray War[edit]

On 31 January 2021, in response to Debretsion Gebremichael's reference to wartime sexual violence in his speech on the state of the Tigray War, Filsan stated that the federal government "had a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of sexual violence".[10] The Ministry, together with the Attorney General Adanech Abiebie and defence personnel, created a task force to investigate interview victims, collect medical evidence and aid the victims of sexual violence in the Tigray War, arriving in Mekelle on 1 February.[11][12] On 11 February, Filsan publicly stated that the task force had "established [that] rape [had] taken place conclusively and without a doubt".[13]

In September 2021, Filsan resigned from her ministership in relation to Abiy's handling of the war.[7] She stated that "an official very high up in Abiy's office" had blocked publication of the task force's full report, and that she "had been told" to only include rapes by TPLF-associated fighters in the report. Her 11 February 2021 tweet had been a response to the blocking of the full report's publication. Filsan stated that rapes committed in the Amhara and Afar Regions during the late 2021 TDF–OLA joint offensive would have been less likely if there had been accountability for the rapes that occurred in Tigray Region.[7]

Filsan stated in her December 2021 interview that she saw prime minister Abiy as being "in denial" and "delusional", and that his "leadership [was] failing". She said that since before the war, "peace had never really been given a chance, and that Abiy [had] seemed to relish the idea of eliminating the TPLF".[7]

Points of view[edit]

In February 2019, Filsan felt it was too early to decide if Mustafa Cagjar's presidency of the Somali Region was successful or not. She stated that Mustafa's cabinet was not gender-balanced.[8] In March 2020, she stated that there had been "vast improvements in free speech" between the preceding Abdi presidency and the Mustafa presidency, and that "the population [was] not fearful" of the new administration. She said that the Mustafa administration had "a long way" to go in terms of nepotism and meritocracy and that there were no women in the executive committee of the Somali Region.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Somali woman who started a TV channel". Mambu Zuri. 2019-10-18. Archived from the original on 2021-01-31. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Interview: The Nabad Project: In pursuit of healing bitter divisions". Addis Standard. 2019-02-11. Archived from the original on 2021-02-01. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  3. ^ a b c d "Goodwill Ambassador Filsan Abdullahi speaks – Youths are the leaders of today". Ethiopian Herald. Ethiopian Press Agency. 2020-03-06. Archived from the original on 2021-03-09. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  4. ^ a b "House Approves Appointment of 4 Ministers". Ethiopian News Agency. 2020-03-12. Archived from the original on 2021-02-01. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  5. ^ a b "Ethiopia's first women attorney general confirmed in the parliament". Borkena. 2020-03-12. Archived from the original on 2020-12-31. Retrieved 2020-12-31.
  6. ^ a b "H.E Ms. Filsan Abdullahi hosted H.E Mr. Ousmane Dione and his team of Experts in her office". Ministry of Women, Children and Youth (Ethiopia). 2020. Archived from the original on 2021-01-31. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  7. ^ a b c d Bearak, Max. "She was in Abiy Ahmed's cabinet as war broke out. Now she wants to set the record straight". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 2022-01-03. Retrieved 2021-12-30.
  8. ^ a b c Tsegaye, Yared (2019-02-11). "The Interview: The Nabad Project: In pursuit of healing bitter divisions" (PDF). Addis Standard. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-02-01. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  9. ^ "Ethiopian Parliament approves youngest minister, Filsan Abdi". Somaliland. 2020-03-12. Archived from the original on 2021-01-31. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  10. ^ "Removed leader of Ethiopia's Tigray promises 'resistance': Audio". Al Jazeera English. 2021-01-31. Archived from the original on 2021-01-31. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  11. ^ "Joint taskforce established to investigate raised concern over violence against women in Tigray". Fana Broadcasting Corporate. 2021-01-31. Archived from the original on 2021-02-04. Retrieved 2021-02-04.
  12. ^ "Task force starts investigating alleged sexual violence in Tigray". Fana Broadcasting Corporate. 2021-02-03. Archived from the original on 2021-02-04. Retrieved 2021-02-04.
  13. ^ "Ethiopia confirms reports of rape in Tigray war". The Guardian (Nigeria). AFP. 2020-02-12. Archived from the original on 2021-02-13. Retrieved 2021-02-13.