Ilwad Elman’s father was an ardent peace activist who coined the famous mantra “Drop the Gun, Pick up the Pen”; he was assassinated for his human rights work in Somalia.
Ilwad returned from Canada to Mogadishu in 2010 whilst the conflict still raged heavily and the majority of the country was lost to the control of the Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group, Al-Shabaab.
She remained in Somalia ever since, serving as a director for the Elman Peace Centre in honour of her father’s legacy. She co-founded the first rape crisis centre for survivors of sexual and gender based violence in Somalia, developed nation wide programs for the disarmament and rehabilitation of child soldiers and adults defecting from armed groups for their socio-economic empowerment, rehabilitation and reintegration as well as designed interventions aimed at security sector reform to create an inclusive space for women in peace building.
Beyond her duties at the Elman Peace Centre; Ilwad is an advocate for the Kofi Annan Foundation where under the mentorship of Mr. Kofi Annan is Preventing Violent Extremism by inspiring, engaging and empowering youth globally. She serves as an expert and strategic advisor to various UN bodies, including the Global Child Protection Area of Responsibility, the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, and was recently appointed as an advisor to UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres’ Peacebuilding fund; making her the youngest advisor to ever serve on the board.
From the front lines of conflict and often in the face of extreme insecurities; Ilwad continues to innovate the services and advocacy of Elman Peace. Through the combined effect of grass-root activism and global diplomacy; she has sparked national movements internally and garnered international attention externally to yield action towards durable solutions for human suffering.