Girls' Education Matters: The Power of Diaspora

Interview with Fatumo Farah 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

When the civil war broke out in Somalia I first fled to Kenya and in 1992 I went to the Netherlands. Two years later, I received refugee status. Before the war, I was studying in Somalia. It is very important in Somalia to be educated as a girl, to become independent and do things for yourself. This inspired me and gave me the courage to secure my education in the Netherlands.

What drives you?

I received a MBA in Business Administration and then worked in this area but later changed my focus to development issues. In 2005 I joined HIRDA (Himilo Relief and Development Association). My decision to join the organization was based on the question: 'How can we create equal educational opportunities for girls and boys in Somalia?'. Based on my own experience as an educated Somali woman, I wanted to do the same for girls in Somalia. That’s what drives me.

Something else drives me too however: I hope that I am able to ‘give something back’ to the country and I’d like to inspire Somali diaspora to do the same.

Picture by Anais Lopez

What are your hopes for the future?

The Somali diaspora is huge, about 14% of Somali's live abroad and send remittances home. HIRDA works with diaspora and mobilizes their resources, not just their remittances but also their skills and knowledge by engaging in programmes which help to transfer their skills and knowledge. HIRDA strives to create gender equality and stimulate entrepreneurship all with the help of Somali diaspora.

I hope that in the future we will manage to leverage remittances by changing how they are currently being used. The sending of remittances creates dependency from people back home on Somalis abroad. We strive to create awareness of this issue and look for ways remittances can be used to stimulate entrepreneurship and create better opportunities for the people there. We hope to remove the dependence on family members abroad whom are often in dire situations themselves.

For myself in the future I would like to continue my contribution to the development of Somalia by working for example with universities as a teacher or in other institutions - transferring my knowledge.