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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

A journey to empowerment: Edna’s fight against FGM

Nurse-midwife and founder of Edna Adan Maternity Hospital, fighting FGM and improving women's healthcare in East Africa wins Templeton Prize.

Edna Adan Ismail, a nurse-midwife, hospital founder, and health care advocate, has been honored with the prestigious 2023 Templeton Prize for her outstanding efforts to combat female genital mutilation (FGM) and improve women’s health care in East Africa. With her unwavering commitment rooted in her Muslim faith, Ismail has made significant strides in affirming the dignity of women and empowering them physically and spiritually. As the first African woman to receive this esteemed award, her remarkable contributions have transformed the lives of numerous women and girls.

Early Life and Education

Edna Adan Ismail was born in 1937 in Hargeisa, British Somaliland, where her father’s influence sparked her passion for medicine and education. Against societal norms, she pursued nursing and midwifery education in Britain, becoming the first medically trained nurse-midwife in her homeland.

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Trailblazer in Health Care and Politics

Ismail shattered barriers as the first woman to drive a car in her country and the first woman appointed to a position of political authority as director of the Ministry of Health. Her experience at the World Health Organization further honed her expertise in maternal and child health.

A Vision for Change

Following Somaliland’s independence, Ismail’s dream of building a hospital materialised, despite the lack of recognition by foreign powers. Overcoming challenges, she acquired a former garbage dump site to establish the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital.

Transforming Maternal Care

Through its innovative approach, the hospital achieved significant reductions in maternal mortality rates in Somaliland. The success of the hospital led to the establishment of Edna Adan University, providing training to thousands of students pursuing careers as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

A Personal Struggle

Having experienced FGM at a young age without her father’s knowledge, Ismail understands the lifelong repercussions firsthand. Witnessing the severe complications of FGM during her career as a midwife, she became a vocal opponent of the practice.

Spearheading Change

Despite facing opposition, Ismail’s advocacy against FGM raised widespread awareness and garnered support. Her hospital continues to offer medical care and support to FGM survivors, serving as a symbol of hope and healing.

Changing Lives

The Edna Adan Maternity Hospital has facilitated the delivery of over 30,000 babies, with the majority of staff and students being women. Ismail’s dedication has empowered countless women, improved access to quality healthcare, and inspired future generations of healthcare workers.

Global Advocacy

Ismail’s fight against FGM extends beyond her hospital, as she continues to advocate internationally for the eradication of this harmful practice. Her efforts have raised awareness and contributed to legal changes in multiple countries, although challenges persist.

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Edna Adan Ismail’s exceptional contributions to combat FGM and improve women’s health care have rightfully earned her the Templeton Prize. By combining her scientific education, faith, and personal experiences, Ismail has become a beacon of hope for women and girls in East Africa and beyond. Through the establishment of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital and University, she has transformed the landscape of maternal care and nurtured a new generation of healthcare professionals.