Edna Adan versus FGM

Edna Adan is one of the heroic women I learned about courtesy of the Half the Sky series. She built and runs a hospital in Somalia. A Safe World for Women gives us her statement on Female Genital Mutilation.

As a midwife, I have been delivering babies for 50 years, many of whom were being born to women who had undergone FGM. Witnessing the FGM-associated complications that many were suffering caused me to speak out against it in public in 1976 which at that time shocked my family and my people.

37 years later, and after so many resolutions have been passed to eradicate the practice, we sadly found that 97% of our women still suffered FGM as shown in the survey carried out on 4000 women at the Edna Adan Hospital between 2002 to 2006.

We are still looking for resources to study the prevalence of FGM and hope that the next survey/audit will reveal a reduction of FGM in our women, particularly after all the campaigns that we have held over the years.

It also posts background information via the hospital website.

In March 1977, during the formation of the Somali Women’s Democratic Organization (SWDO),  Edna Adan Ismail was the first Somali person to publicly denounce FGM and pioneered the campaign for its eradication in Somalia and in Somaliland.

From that time she has campaigned against FGM at many important occasions, including during the WHO Seminar in Khartoum in 1979 on the Mental and Physical Complications of FGM; in 1980 during the Mid-Decade Conference for women in Copenhagen; in Lusaka in the same year; In Dakar in 1984 when she co-founded and was elected the Vice-President of the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children; In 1986 in EMRO Egypt; 1987 in Addis Ababa and the lobbying of the Organization of African Unity. During the Beijing Women’s Conference in 1995 and between 1988 and 1997 when she tirelessly along with international colleagues, lobbied WHO/UNICEF and every Human Rights Organization.

One of the heroic women.


  1. Mattir says

    Edna Adan is actually a hero in our family, and we’ve donated to her hospital several times. I’m glad to see her name here.

    We started learning about Somalia when a girl scout leader selected it as a country for our troop to learn about for a local scout festival because (sigh) it was the only country in Africa she had ever heard of. I took it as a challenge and discovered that there is a lot more to Somalia than FGM, piracy, and famine. Amazing music, interesting food, ancient cave paintings, unique plants and animals – really an astonishing place and people.

    Off to make another donation and fish out my Somali music. Thank you for the reminder.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *