Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas presents German Africa Award to Somali peace activist Ilwad Elman
In a festive ceremony on Tuesday evening, the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas presented the German Africa Award to Somali peace activist Ilwad Elman. With this award, the German Africa Foundation honours her for her outstanding social and political commitment as one of the leading voices in the Somali peace process.
On this occasion, 80 guests from politics, business and society gathered in the Allianz Forum at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin – in compliance with the applicable hygiene regulations. In addition to that, the event was followed online by several hundred spectators. Before handing over the statue, Federal Foreign Affairs Minister Maas emphasised the extraordinary commitment and dedication with which the award-winner is working for the people in Somalia and beyond. Maas praised Ilwad Elman as a “very dignified, inspiring and deeply human award-winner”, who “at just 30 years old, has been standing up for the weakest members of your society for a decade now”. Ilwad Elman is representing a growing generation of young African women “who, full of creativity and courage, are breaking new ground and changing societies”. Germany still has a lot to learn from Africa, he said, as on our neighbouring continent “every fourth business start-up is founded by a woman” – a worldwide top value.
Ilwad Elman considers the German Africa Award a great honour for herself and her work with the Elman Peace Centre. “There are 700 million young Africans under 30 years of age. To be honoured as one of them fills me with great pride”, she said in an interview with moderator Sabrina N’Diaye. With her wide reach in social networks – 70,000 people follow her on Twitter, 150,000 on Instagram – the Somali is aware of her role model function, especially for young people. In Ilwad Elman’s eyes, they are the key to success for the sustainable development of her country, because “if we motivate and involve the youth, the chance to achieve something – the chance for peace – is much greater.