Hinda Artan Yusuf, a budding public servant, is among 72 young women in Somaliland whose careers have been helped by grants from the African Educational Trust (AET).

Lack of finances forced Hinda to suspend her master’s degree at the University of Hargeisa a year ago. However, a $500 AET grant per semester to cover fees and living costs enabled her to resume her course.

“The support has really made a difference. It has enabled me to improve my life and get into the public service,” she said.

Hinda, who is currently head of technical training at the Somaliland Ministry of Education and Science, applied for financial support after seeing an AET announcement in the local media. She had earlier received AET support for her bachelor’s degree in 2016-2018.

Ahmed Abdillahi Mohamed, programme director at AET Somaliland, told Radio Ergo that over 300 young women in the country have benefitted from their educational support, which aims to encourage young women to continue their education in high school and university.

A study commissioned by AET in 2017 indicated that most young women in Somaliland wish to pursue university education but are hampered by financial and other challenges, leaving them absent from high positions in society, which are dominated by men.

“Women tend to be overlooked and this is to everyone’s detriment. A society is like a bird: it can only take off when both its wings are working. For us to take off as a society, we must ensure that both our wings are equally empowered and working in unison,” Ahmed told Radio Ergo.

Hani Mohamed Shufe, another AET grantee, dropped out of high school because her family could not afford to pay the fees. Her father works as a casual labourer painting houses, earning barely enough to provide food and shelter for his family of nine.

She reached form three in high school with the support of relatives, who had to stop supporting her. The school principal connected her to AET, enabling her to receive $20 to cover the monthly fees at Gandi High School in Hargeisa.

“They helped me to focus on my education without the constant worry of how I’ll pay the monthly fees, or whether or not I’ll be able to buy the

required textbooks. Sometimes I even have some left-over money for my personal use,” Hani said.

She expressed confidence in her future even though the society has not fully embraced the role of women in the workforce.

“Whether or not I get employment afterwards, getting an education will benefit me as a person and as a mother. It will allow me to make informed decisions that contribute to society,” Hani said.

AET believes in the universal adage that educating a woman empowers a nation.

“These young women have become like candle lights inspiring others. After graduating, some have secured good positions in the public sector, some have become teachers, and some have obtained scholarships to pursue further education. What they all share is the will and ambition to succeed in life,” said programme director Ahmed Abdillahi Mohamed.