When Angelina Jolie took the stage at the Women in the World Summit on Thursday night, she spoke for a woman who could not join the celebration because of the conflict that continues to roil her native Somalia after more than two decades:
Dr. Hawa Abdi, one of the country’s first female obstetricians, who since 1991 has provided free housing, water, and medical care to as many as 90,000 people displaced by violent civil war. It is a staggering number, and a staggering tragedy, which Jolie recounted in grave detail: “Murder. Rape. Kidnapping. Disease … and, most recently, famine.”
Just a few hours after Jolie’s presentation, 400 people supported by Abdi fled their homes under threat from a militant group that recently confiscated part of her land. On Sunday, Abdi, who recently was nominated for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, issued a statement of concern through her nonprofit organization, the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation (DHAF): “The camp is struggling to provide services to the women and children who have become the most vulnerable during this time.”
Since her appearance at the Women in the World Summit last year, Abdi has been supported by the Women in the World Foundation, which has connected DHAF with pro bono legal counsel through White & Case LLP and the Avon Center for Women and Justice at Cornell University—resources that have enabled the foundation to operate in both the U.S. and Kenya at a time when the situation in the camp has never been more dire.
The Women in the World Foundation has announced it will honor Abdi with a Women of Impact award, which includes a $25,000 grant to her foundation. “Nobody defines a woman of impact more than Dr. Abdi,” says Women in the World Foundation president Kim Azzarelli. “She’s most deserving of this grant and for all our appreciation and admiration.”