Former refugee running as Somalia’s first female president

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Fadumo Dayib was once a Somali refugee. A Harvard graduate and mother, she now lives a comfortable life in Finland. Despite the overwhelming odds, she running as Somalia’s first female president.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Fadumo Dayib is trying to do something no one has ever done before. Despite overwhelming odds, she is vying to become Somalia’s first female president. Those long odds have a lot to do with her own story. She has been a refugee for most of her life. Despite not learning how to read until she was 14 years old, she now has a master’s degree from Harvard in public administration and is working on a Ph.D. But in a country with a dismal human rights record and a long history of oppression against women, running for the highest public office in the land comes with risks. Fadumo Dayib joins me now. Welcome to the program.

FADUMO DAYIB: Thank you very much, Rachel.

MARTIN: Why do you want to do this?

DAYIB: Because I see what I’m doing as a moral obligation and a civic duty towards my country. I’ve watched for almost 26 years, hoping for a competent leadership to come that can bring us all back. There’s 1.5 million Somalis in the diaspora, 1.2 million internally displaced inside the country. And they’re all yearning to have a dignified existence to go back.

MARTIN: What is life like – if you are a child in Somalia right now, what does your future hold? What is day to day life like?

DAYIB: It’s very bleak. If I speak about a child in Somalia who wakes up and might be in an internally displaced camp, this is a child who sees violence because majority of the women and children also get raped. They, you know, experience attacks by al-Shabab. And of the 12 million Somalis that I spoke about, 75 percent are under the age of 30. Of that, 68 percent are unemployed. That’s why they end up either joining piracy or joining al-Shabab, or going on to migrate and dying on their way to the West.

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