Halima is one of our Ambassadors. She lives in London and is studying media and film at college. In this blog she talks about the power of looking to your own heritage to find women role models.

There are over 50,000 Somalis who live in Britain - I am one of them.

For over hundred years there has been a Somali presence in London with the first seamen who settled in ports around London - and Cardiff and Liverpool.

We often look for role models in our lives, someone we can connect to who speaks for us.  As a Somali young woman there are few Somali women role models so the political activist Hawao Tako is someone I look up to who is a symbol of female Somali nationalism - a significant figure in Somali oral history. 

Hawao represents the country of my heritage’s struggles against colonialism.  She was a member of the Somali Youth League and was part of the 1948 riots in Mogadishu in the struggle for Somalia’s independence.  She died protecting her people.

In Somali culture we are handed down stories through generations, one of the first tales we are told is about the ancient Somali Queen Arawelo who fought to give women power.  She fought for female liberation and defied gender roles.  Arawelo became destitute following the death of her husband and formed a huge group of women ostracised by society.  Living in the wilderness they had their independence but when their matriarchal society was threatened by men - Queen Arawelo led a series of raids building peace she became the first Queen of Somalia. 

Why am I telling you the story of these women?

They are important to me when I reach for role models to feel strong and empowered.  I look to my heritage and history of women who have struggled to give generations of women Somalia freedoms.  

Thanks for sharing Halima, it's great to hear about women who have made a difference to the lives of women in other parts of the world. We can see why you look up to Hawao and Arawelo - both strong, powerful women standing up for what they believe and making their voices heard.