Somalilandsun – Through sheer determination, Edna Aden has saved the lives of countless mothers and newborn children, as well as positively changing the lives of many women across the Horn of Africa.
This was stated by MEP James Carver during an Edna Adan endorsement speech for award of Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2015 at a session of Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy –EFDD
Established in 1988 in honour of Russian nuclear scientist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is the highest tribute to human rights endeavours the European Union accords. The Prize is awarded annually to honour individuals or organisations for their efforts for human rights, fundamental freedoms. The EP awards the Sakharov Prize with its €50 000 endowment at a formal plenary sitting in Strasbourg. Political groups or at least 40 MEPs can nominate candidates, the Foreign Affairs and Development Committees vote on a short-list of three, and the Conference of Presidents chooses the laureate(s).
Below is the verbatim MEP James Carver endorsement speech
Every generation, mankind produces the gift of a handful of people who are genuinely able to reach out and make a positive influence towards humanity’s wellbeing. Edna Adan Ismail is, without any shadow of a doubt, one such person.
Alongside many of her kinsmen, Edna literally rolled up her sleeves and got to work returning Somaliland from the despair and ruins of a long and bloody civil war, transforming her homeland into a rare success story on the Horn of Africa.
Edna’s lifelong commitment, successfully championing women’s rights at the same time as challenging her societies’ cultural, tribal and stereotypical traditions, whilst clearly displaying her own freedom of thought, through her dogged determination and persistence, has led to outstanding improvements in the role of women in modern Somaliland society.
Not content with her own previous, long and esteemed diplomatic career as Somaliland’s first female Minister of Foreign Affairs, she has, over many years, transformed her Edna Adan Hospital in Hargeisa, from ruins and rubble, to a position to not just offer free medical access to women from all backgrounds and nationalities across the Horn of Africa, but also initiate a long term approach to better healthcare, using this superb facility to train large numbers of the next generation of African medical professionals.
Since Edna opened the hospital in 2002, and despite the hospital dealing with the highest risk cases, maternal mortality amongst mothers in the hospital is one quarter of the national average, and in this time over 14,000 babies have been successfully delivered.
The hospital runs an excellent training scheme for midwives across the region, and has achieved quite remarkable results successfully educating women about the very real damage caused through the cultural practice and taboo subject of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Since the launch of her educational program, there has been a dramatic decline in the numbers of women affected by FGM, with a commensurate fall in numbers that goes against the trend in the rest of the Horn of Africa.
Through sheer determination, she has saved the lives of countless mothers and newborn children, as well as positively changing the lives of many women across the Horn of Africa.
Furthermore, alongside her personal dedication to improving gender equality, her other role as President of the Organisation for Victims of Torture, underlines Edna’s lifetime commitment, as a standard bearer for common decency and human rights.
Accordingly, on behalf of the EFDD group, I am extremely proud and honoured, without any hesitation whatsoever, to nominate Mrs. Edna Adan Ismail for this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
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