As violent extremism and famine threaten Somalia, civil society must be strengthened and Somalis must be supported by the international community to prevent wide-reaching disaster. Extremist ideologies have attracted youth in search of identity and security, and it is the role of civil society to guide them back to a peaceful worldview. In order to foster dialogue about the importance of active citizenship in preventing violent extremism in Somalia, Women without Borders (WwB) held a presentation and discussion with Somali activists Hanan Ibrahim and Samira Abdule in Vienna on 21 Dec. 2011. Each work in their home countries of England and Sweden to engage their communities in preventing violent extremism, and they talked about the future of PVE efforts in their homes and across the globe.

Hanan Ibrahim MBE, came to the UK from Somalia, where she founded the Somali Family Support Group. She has been recognised with the Queen’s Award for her community activism. She is currently based in Mogadishu. Hanan is a strong voice of reason in a situation of uncertainty and exemplifies the strength of civil society in exceptional circumstances.

Samira Abdule, a Somali woman who lives in Sweden. She was personally affected by violent extremism in 2009, when her husband was targeted and killed by a car bomb. At the time, she was two months pregnant with her seventh child, and soon after fled the country with her family. Since then, Samira has been committed to speaking up against radical ideologies, and is a leader in her Somali community in exile.

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