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German Africa Award 2020: Allianz Africa honors Ilwad Elman, leading voice in the Somali peace process

27th October 2020
Allianz Africa rend hommage à Ilwad Elman

The mission of the Foundation aligns with the ambition of Allianz Africa as Coenraad Vrolijk, Regional CEO of Allianz Africa stated: “At Allianz Africa, we have the strong desire to contribute to the continent’s development. We have been working hard to secure people’s lives and to give courage to our customers for what is ahead”

This year's Ceremony honored Ilwad Elman, the 30-year-old leading voice in the Somali peace process, International expert in conflict resolution and CEO of the Elman Peace Center, chosen from a shortlist of 30 candidates. Raised as a refugee in Canada, she returned to the crisis-ridden country in the Horn of Africa at the age of 19 and has since developed into an international expert in conflict resolution. Her work focuses on both peace and security as well as economic development and contributes significantly to positive change within the Somali society.

Ilwad Elman founded Sister Somalia in 2010, the country‘s first rape crisis center, supporting survivors of sexual and gender-based abuse. Currently, there are nine centers of this type in different regions of the country. 

At the Elman Peace Center, founded by her mother, Ilwad has revived her father‘s “Drop the gun, pick up the pen” initiative, which has already disarmed, rehabilitated and reintegrated thousands of former child soldiers. The success of the program has led to expansions to Mali, Cameroon and Nigeria.

“We strongly believe that the transformation of Africa will be achieved by bold individuals and corporations, willing to make a difference in their communities, environment and businesses“, said Coenraad Vrolijk. He continued: “We need committed people such as Ilwad to help organize appropriate responses and support their communities to overcome local difficulties”.

Since 2018, Ilwad has also been the youngest advisor to the UN Peace Building Trust. On account of her courageous commitment, she was one of the 100 most influential African Voices in the World in 2019 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize the same year. 

It is extremely impressive how Ilwad Elman, despite her difficult starting conditions, has developed into a globally sought-after leader, and has continuously contributed to a sustainable solution to the conflict in her country. 

“Ilwad’s determination and perseverance are inspirational and challenging for each one of us to think on how we can contribute more for freedom and equal opportunities”, concluded Coenraad Vrolijk.