Fire in the Belly: Lessons from young women peacebuilders from Somalia, Libya and Northern Ireland on inspiring leaders for peaceful change.

Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Series

Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Series

Fire in the Belly: Lessons from young women peacebuilders from Somalia, Libya and Northern Ireland on inspiring leaders for peaceful change.

Event info

Join Hajer Sharief (Libya), Ilwad Elman (Somalia) and Emma Johnston (Northern Ireland) for a panel discussion chaired by Monica McWilliams (Northern Ireland).

These four women will share their unique experiences of peacebuilding. Specifically, we will focus on what works best when seeking to inspire young women to become leaders.

What works well and how can we inspire more young women to get active as leaders in society?

Join us to answer these questions in this the third seminar in The Youth Peace and Security Series.

The Youth, Peace and Security seminar series is a partnership between Ulster University (INCORE, TJI & Centre for Youth Research and Dialogue), The John and Pat Hume Foundation, John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, International Fund for Ireland (IFI), and Interpeace.

Speakers

  • Monica McWilliams is Emeritus Professor of Women’s Studies at the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University.
  • Hajer Sharief is a Libyan peace and human rights activist. She co-leads the work of the Together We Build It (TWBI) organization in Libya.
  • Ilwad Elman is a young female leader at the forefront of the Somali peace process. She co-founded the Elman Peace Centre and is an Advocate for the Kofi Annan Foundation.
  • Emma Johnston is a youth worker in NI, working with Youth Action Northern Ireland. She is a representative on Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform, the UK Joint Committee for women and the Irish NAP For Women Peace and Security.

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About the speakers

Monica McWilliams

Monica McWilliams is a signatory to the Good Friday Agreement and was involved as a lead negotiator in the multi-party talks leading to the agreement in 1998 on behalf of the Women's Coalition which she co-founded two years earlier.

She is Emeritus Professor of Women’s Studies at the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University and former Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

She was an elected member of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly from 1998-2003 and currently serves on the Independent Reporting Commission, overseeing measures on the disbandment of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland.

Monica is a former Chairperson of Interpeace, Board member of The John & Pat Hume Foundation and author of a range of publications on domestic violence, human security and the role of women in peace processes. Her memoir Stand Up, Speak Out will be published by Blackstaff in October 2021.

Hajer Sharief

Hajer Sharief is a Libyan peace and human rights activist. She co-leads the work of the Together We Build It (TWBI) organization in Libya focusing on women and youth peace and security.

She is a member of the Extremely Together young leaders, an initiative by Kofi Annan and the Kofi Annan Foundation. In 2020, Forbes named Sharief as one of Africa's Most 50 Powerful Women. And she was listed by Avanec media among the 100 Most Influential African Women for 2020. In 2017, Hajer Sharief was awarded the Student Peace Prize from Isfit.

Ilwad Elman

Ilwad Elman is a young female leader at the forefront of the Somali peace process, and a global authority on peace and security. After the assassination of her father, a prominent Somali peace activist, Ilwad and her family became refugees, eventually finding asylum in Canada. Aged 19, she felt the responsibility to return with her mother to a Somalia still steeped in violent conflict, where they founded the Elman Peace Centre. At just 20, she co-founded Somalia’s first rape crisis center.

Since, Ilwad has become a champion of building peace through giving all those impacted by conflict — particularly women and girls — a seat at the table.  Beyond her duties at the Elman Peace Centre; Ilwad is an advocate for the Kofi Annan Foundation and was a mentee of His excellency, the late Kofi Annan for three years. Through the Elman Peace Centre, Ilwad has created a methodology for community-based peace building in contexts of ongoing conflict that is now being exported to conflicts across Africa.

It has led to her becoming a UN expert advisor on Peace & Security to two UN Secretary Generals and two year stint as the youngest ever board member of the UN Peace Building Fund, advising the UN Secretary General directly on fragile and conflict affected states globally.

Emma Johnston

Emma has been involved in youth work from a young age and participates in a range of youth activities and programmes in her local community. A worker within the Equality work with young women’s team of YouthAction Northern Ireland, Emma is committed and passionate about challenging the systems which continue to limit young women’s opportunities.

Emma is a representative of young women’s voices on Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform and the UK Joint Committee for women with a seat on the European Women’s Lobby attending conferences at national and international level.

Emma sits on the Irish NAP for Women Peace and Security. She was a member of the Foyle Pride Committee for four years organising a week of pride activities in Derry and LGBT Awareness week. Emma is a graduate from Ulster University at Magee in Derry where she undertook a Bsc Honours in Community Youth Work.

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Event info

03:30PM to 05:00PM

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