Somalia mourns loss of Minister Khadija Diriye

The Somali nation mourns the unexpected loss of Khadija Mohamed Diriye, Somali Minister for Women and Human Rights Development, yesterday in Djibouti, at the age of 74.

Ms. Diriye was born, raised and educated in Somalia. She was a colorful politician with a strong personality. She was respected by her male counterparts, even in a country where the few women who ventured into politics did not last long.

A vocational journalist, poet, philanthropist and fierce advocate for the rights of women and minorities, Khadija was a survivor of Somalia’s political chaos and a fighter to the end.

The late minister began her political career at the Arta conference in Djibouti in 2000 representing her historically discriminated clan. Her intelligence and ability to adapt to changes in administration have enabled her to retain her seat as deputy without interruption until now.

Exceptional in Somalia, Khadija’s advocacy scope transcended all Somali regions, from Hargeisa to Baidoa, unlike most Somali politicians who remained staunchly focused on their tribal geography.

Khadija made headlines earlier this year after some clerics harshly criticized her casual outfit featuring pants and her support for revising Somalia’s penal code for sexual offenses.

And unfortunately, it was in the same country where she made her name that she took her last breath. She is said to have been suffering from a mysterious illness in recent days while attending the Heritage Institute conference held annually in Djibouti.

Her sudden death was felt by the entire Somali nation. We will miss her presence, her advocacy on behalf of the most disadvantaged in society and her oratory prowess.