HARGEISA, 27 February 2010 (Somalilandpress) – The Republic of Somaliland, a former British Protectorate, which has gained its independence from the British on June 26, 1960, after short union with the South, it reclaimed i’ts independence in 1991, after an armed struggle against the totalitarian regime of Mohamed Siad Bare. Somaliland has since continued to impress the international community with such relentless efforts to secure the only stability that exists, today, in what was formerly known as Somalia. Although, Somaliland has, yet, to gain recognition as a sovereign state from any of the United Nations member states, many of these states has credited the people of Somaliland for their hard work and commitment. The stability and the gradual developments in many spheres in Somaliland’s affairs are often described, by the international community, exemplary compared to that of Somalia and many other states in the Horn of Africa, today.

Any commendable achievement made by Somaliland has been, solely, achieved by the people of Somaliland. Somaliland women have, incontestably and immensely, contributed to these achievements. They say, every great man behind a great woman. Thank God, this small nation of, allegedly, less than three millions of populace, has so far produced many great women. Those great women deserve decoration for their contribution, and the likes of Edna should be honoured with a Noble Prize for her allegiance to humanitarian work.

Edna Adan Ismail is in the lead of those noble Somaliland women, who have made a viable difference in the slow, but improving political, social, economical, and cultural situations of Somaliland. Edna is a great role model to many young and aspiring Somaliland women, and I can only hope I have done her justice in the following paragraphs, where I am attempting to shed a light on what puts this lady ahead of the crowd.

Edna has shared platform with many world leaders and other important international figures such as former United States presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton. Former United Nation’s Secretary General Kofi Annan, and Hollywood mega stars Demi Moore, Goldie Hawn and many more. Edna, like her high-profile peers, can afford to have a Hollywood starlet lifestyle in any country of her choice. She can afford to live in New York suburbs, drive Bentley Continental, dine in posh and expensive eateries with her highly academic peers, and private shop in Paris’s Faubourg Saint-Honoré district. But no, she did not choose that lifestyle. Instead, she chose to live in Hargeisa, Somalland’s capital city, drive nothing fancier than what other Hargeisa’s working class are driving. And on top of that, she, personally, deliveries babies at Edna Maternity Hospital. The hospital she founded and maintains herself with her own pension money, in Hargeisa. In an interview she gave at the BBC Radio 4, she told the presenter that her reason of founding Edna Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa and running it, is nothing more than just living up to an occupational commitment, i.e. she is a trained midwife, who has gained her skills at various hospitals in London, and therefore, this is, in her own words, “what she does for living”.

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Edna Adan Ismail must be the most accomplished woman in the Horn of Africa, and one of the few in the whole of African continent. She has many firsts in many things. She is the first Somaliland woman to receive a scholarship to United Kingdom, where she was trained as a midwife in 1950s. She is the first Somaliland and Somalia’s First Lady as she was the wife of former Somalia’s President in 1960s, Mohammed Haji Ibrahim Egal. The first Somaliland woman to held a driving license, and as she told the BBC Radio 4 presenter the first Somali person to speak out of the Female Genital Mutilation (GFM) in 1975. Edna was the first woman Foreign Minister of the Republic of Somaliland from the periods of 2003 to 2006 and the only woman minister, then. She worked with the United Nations and has become the Regional Director of the World Health Organisation. She retired in early 1990s.

Edna Adan Ismail is reported to have receiving many tributes, so far, in her still ongoing humanitarian work. Edna was added to the list of the Medical Mission Hall of Fame in early 2007 by the University of Toledo, Ohio. This was in recognition of her lifelong Humanitarian work, and it gained her another first in her career life. Edna was the first African to have been awarded with such an honour. Furthermore, Edna received Honorary Doctoral Degree and Honorary Fellow from Clark University of Massachusetts in the United States and Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, respectively.

When speaking of this brilliant woman, people often tend to associate her with the late Somaliland president, Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, as she was his first wife, or UDUP, the current ruling party in Somaliland, with whom she served as a Foreign Minister. However, many people, often, fail to appreciate that this noble woman has a lifelong achievements in humanitarian work. She is, first and foremost, qualified medical personnel and thus vowed to serve her country, regardless. Edna Maternity Hospital trains legions of young men and women in health-care, every year. Many of those qualified men and women work in various health centres in the country, while others may choose to continue for further studies and trainings elsewhere. When Edna is not in Hargeisa, where she would not miss a delivery of a new baby, she travels around the world pleading with the international community to support Somaliland and, particularly, assist with the development of a better and sustainable health-care system in the country.

This prominent woman has earned her place in history and is a true inspirational to all of us. Her humble self and noble efforts to help her people are amiable qualities that put her on top of the list that I have, personally, set to honour Somaliland’s most prominent women.

Written By:
Salma A. Sheik


  1. Salma good on you girl, I see women empowerment there – well I love Edna she is remarkable woman and there aint many like her.

    Overall I agree with your views and Somaliland women like before will always be the pillars of our nation because they use and still do educate the young men (their sons) at home.

  2. Yes, she is a most remarkable woman. Many men could learn a lot from her. Especially when we talk about jobs, which may be based upon merit and not based upon nepotism. Professionalism is her brand. Indeed she is a lighthouse
    in Somaliland.
    Peder Pedersen

  3. Hello folks,

    No doubt Edna is the pride of our nation. Every time we the Diaspora communities give up hope because some incompetent leaders seemed to take the helm of the government, we convince ourselves why not follow the footsteps of Edna—move to Somaliland and make a difference instead of whining and complaining in abroad.

    Dalmar Kaahin

  4. If Mr. Riyale, was really serious about Somaliland getting recognition from the rest of the world, he wouldn't have removed from his cabinet the only shining star in Somaliland and the most respected individual from his government. Maybe, and I hope he is regretting his decision,

  5. She really is a remarkable woman with an unparalleled achievements. She was first in many things as Salma mentioned except that she was the second wife of Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, not the first. He had a wife and children when she married him. It was her first marriage and his second.

    I don't think that Riyaale regrets his decision of getting ride of her because they (he and his circle of friends), that is, were hounding her for sometime before she left. She was too good and too sophisticated for them. She sure is an inspiration, a role model, shining star and a national treasure. No doubt, she will be decorated in the history books.

  6. Dear Salma A. Sheik

    Congradulation for good piece sis, No One can doubt of ADNAs achievement. She is an examples for the selfish leaders of SL. HOWEVER I NEED TO CORRECT YOU ON SOME POINTS: 1) ADNA WAS THE SECOND WIFE OF LATE PRESIDENT EGAL. EGALS FIRST WIFE IS LATE ASHA SAED ABBY, AND SHE GAVE TO THE ONLY 5 CHLDREN EGAL EVER HAD.

  7. It is true we have many great women. I can not name any apart from Edna, unfortunately. It is not that I am not interested, but that no one mentions them in any where. I heard there are some important women who occupy higher posts with Somaliland government now, and there are some other none politicians who are doing very important things within the community. I look forward to Somalilandpress to introduce us these women.
    Thank you Salma ever so much.

  8. I wish these Somali websites would be a little more professional and stop publishing articles and opinions that have gramatical and or spelling errors.

    This article has an error on it's heading and I bet many of the readers of this site and even the editors are unable to see it.

    This is only meant to as a positive criticism even though a little harsh.

    Pls do not be emotional and lash out as Juba probably will.


    • What's wrong Somal……….not seeing right, are you? Nothing wrong with the title.

  9. @Somal, English is not our mother tongue. Lot of us have a limited English language and/or are fluent in other languages. But yet again, we want to raise our opinion and make a point. So, take it as it is and stop criticizing other people even a person with the highest education make mistakes.

    It is not like we are evaluating an essay and grading it. I, personally, try to understand what the person means rather than how his/her english sounds.

  10. For Somal

    Maroodigu takarta saaran ma arko ee ta saxiibkii saaran buu arkaa!!!
    In a bit broader context; you, my friend, start practicing what you are preaching. And to help you even with further indication. "pls" is not a formal English language. I am sure you meant to say 'please'. 🙂
    Easy to spot errors made by others, but forget your own ones 🙂