Iran Visit

After being in Somalia for a month and working on various things I was invited to attend the third Ministerial conference on Women’s Role in the Development of OIC Member States in Tehran from 19th – 21st December 2010. This is organized by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The first ministerial conference was held in Istanbul in 2006 and this was followed by the second conference in Cairo in 2008. Now representatives from 57 member countries will gather again for the third conference in Tehran, Iran.

I travelled to Iran on 18th December. Iran is a beautiful country. The people were so extremely hospitable and welcoming. I met many highly educated Iranian women including the President’s wife. I was impressed by their humbleness and their down to earth attitude. I was also impressed by the level of freedom these women enjoyed (unlike the popular belief that they are oppressed).

During the conference we discussed issues such as the role of women in the family and society, ways to make women more independent and how to reduce the financial problem on women and give them a more active role in the economy.

I delivered a speech on the situation in Somalia and how the Somali women bear the brunt of the war. After the speech, among those that approached me was the Iranian Red Crescent Society. They were touched by the situation in Somalia and wished to help. After the meeting we agreed on a first batch of food aid (total of 60ton) which will be delivered in the next month. This first shipment will consist of basic food to help in the draughts in Mogadishu.

I am off to Birmingham next. I am so grateful to Allah to have allowed me this opportunity to make a difference to my people.

About Maryam Qasim

I am a medical doctor and a humanitarian activist. I have worked as an obstetrician and gynecologist, which is my specialty as well as a University lecturer. I also obtained a Masters in Public Health from Warwick University. During my time in the diaspora, I worked on empowering women and raising the achievements of Somali children. I worked with local schools/authorities as well as presenting at national and international conferences dealing with family matters. I am very active in the Islamic field, giving Islamic lectures at Masjid’s, conferences, universities and summer campings. I served as the minister for Women’s Development and Family Affairs in the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (2010-2011). I am currently the chair person of Tayo party which is a political party striving for equality and justice.
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