Somalia’s Female Presidential Candidate: ‘If Contesting Means I die, So Be It’

Somalia’s Female Presidential Candidate: ‘If Contesting Means I die, So Be It’


Somalian presidential elections are set to take place at the end of November, and among the 18 candidates is Fadumo Dayib — the first female in the country’s history to run for president.

Dayib, 44, is a refugee from Mogadishu, whose family sold everything for her escape to a better life in northern Europe in 1990, where she began a lifelong love of studying, leading to her winning a fellowship at Harvard University.

The decision for Ms Dayib — now a public health expert and an award-winning activist — to stand for the presidency, has attracted death threats, but she also said she had received massive support from the country she once left behind as a teenager.

Asked why she thought now was the right time to run, Ms Dayib told the ABC’s The World program she had spent too long “watching from the sidelines for the past 26 years as the country continued in [its] prolonged conflict.”

“I have come to the conclusion that we must do something about the situation in Somalia,” she said.

Dayib furthered that she believed this year was the right year due to initial prospect of having free elections.

But the push for free elections in Somalia has been dogged by delays due to security and administrative concerns, which Ms Dayib attributes to “incompetency”, “corruption”, and “a lack of accountability”.

“We need to ensure that we have a capable administration that adheres to the constitution and implements the vision it sets out for herself,” she said.

Speaking on her unique history as a refugee-turned-academic, Ms Dayib said that in the 26 years she spent away from home, she has since learned about “accountability, human rights, equality, democracy, and welfare”, amongst other things, and wants to personally bring those ideas to the political table in Somalia.

Dayib acknowledged that her chances of winning the elections were “very slim”, citing the corrupt electoral system.

“So what I aim to do, is to pave the way for democracy in 2020 and to ensure Somalian citizens have the right to fight and make their voice heard,” she said.

“I have a calling and purpose in this world,” she says. “We must stand and speak up against injustices, my family gets that, it’s not easy but this is who I am. If loving my land means I will die, so be it.”