Building the Base of the Community: A Narrative of the Life and Work of Zahra Ugas Farah of Somalia
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Abstract or Description
Women on the frontline of efforts to end violence and secure a just peace seldom record their experiences, activities and insights – as generally there is no time or, perhaps, they do not have formal education that would help them record their stories. The Women PeaceMakers Program is a selective program for leaders who want to document, share and build upon their unique peacemaking stories. Selected peacemakers join the IPJ for an eight-week residency.
Women PeaceMakers are paired with a Peace Writer to document in written form their story of living in conflict and building peace in their communities and nations. The peacemakers’ stories are also documented on film by the IPJ’s partner organization Sun & Moon Vision Productions. While in residence at the institute, Women PeaceMakers give presentations on their work and the situation in their home countries to the university and San Diego communities.
Zahra Ugas Farah is a founding member and director of the Family Economy Rehabilitation Organization (FERO), originally created in 1992 to meet the basic survival needs of people suffering from the violent civil war in Somalia. Within a year of its founding, FERO was appointed deputy head of food distribution, working directly with the World Food Program. The organization has since expanded its work to include HIV/AIDS awareness; the elimination of the practice of female genital mutilation; the empowerment of women through education, income-generating projects and skills building; and incorporating women into capacity building and decision making at the local and national levels. When government and Ethiopian troops battled Islamic insurgents in 2006 and 2007, re-igniting pronounced violent conflict in the country, FERO mobilized women’s groups in Mogadishu and called on the warring sides to observe international human rights standards; the organization also continued their humanitarian work to save lives during the height of the fighting.
The daughter of a clan chief and a devout Muslim, Farah has been participating in the Somali peace process as a key civil society leader. At the Somali Reconciliation Conference in 2002, Farah served as a member of the Committee on Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, and later was nominated to chair meetings of the Leaders Committee composed of rival warlords attempting to communicate and find resolution to the conflict. FERO has hosted hundreds of events to educate local communities on Somali women’s role in reconciliation and peace processes. However, as the quota of women holding government positions in Somalia is not being filled, Farah and her colleagues are using forums and declarations to revitalize the call for and realization of women’s rights and representation.
peacebuilding, Women PeaceMakers, Somalia
Peace and Conflict Studies
Digital USD Citation
Dyck, Carmen, "Building the Base of the Community: A Narrative of the Life and Work of Zahra Ugas Farah of Somalia" (2003). Kroc IPJ Research and Resources. 55.