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Ifrah Ahmed, campaigner and activist, chosen as 2023 Women of Concern honouree

Press release12 October 2023
Ifrah Ahmed, Women of Concern 2023 honouree with award
Ifrah Ahmed, Women of Concern 2023 honouree with her award. Photo: Leon Farrell/Concern Worldwide

Irish/Somali activist and campaigner, Ifrah Ahmed, has been named as this year’s honouree at Concern Worldwide’s annual Women of Concern event.

Driven by her own experience of female genital mutilation (FGM), Ifrah has campaigned tirelessly against FGM and gender-based violence, working in Ireland and Somalia through her organisation, the Ifrah Foundation.

“I am both honoured and moved to have been chosen for this award. I admire the work of Concern and see from their work in Somalia and around the world, that we are both working for the same thing. The need to reduce gender inequality through empowering women is close to my heart and work too. The continued prevalence of FGM continues to block women and girls from fulfilling their potential and has to end,” said Ifrah.

Ifrah has developed a range of programmes tackling gender based violence and FGM in Somalia. It has the highest prevalence of FGM in the world, with 98% of women undergoing the practice there.

Ifrah was instrumental in the passing of legislation banning FGM in Ireland, introduced in 2012.

Born in Somalia but forced to flee the war there in 2006 at the age of 17, Ifrah escaped traffickers and was granted asylum in Ireland. Since her return to Somalia, she has broken taboos and brought about a national conversation on FGM and the pressing need to protect women and girls. 

“Like everyone else I am inspired and amazed by Ifrah.  For over a decade she has bravely highlighted the most personal of injustices perpetrated on women, challenging taboos of language in Ireland and in Somalia, and transforming attitudes, not just to FGM, but to women’s place in society. Concern is truly delighted to recognise her achievements,” said David Regan, Concern Chief Executive.

Ifrah was presented with the award – a bog oak sculpture of a flying dove - at the fifth annual Women of Concern luncheon in Dublin today.

The event, sponsored by professional services firm EY Ireland, highlights how Concern’s work with communities in 25 countries, supports the global drive towards gender equality, a persistent and major obstacle to ending extreme poverty.  It also pays tribute to women who embody justice, generosity, and compassion in their work and daily lives, and act as inspiring role models for all of us.

Previous Women of Concern honourees include Irish Ambassador to the US, and former Ambassador to the United Nations, Geraldine Byrne Nason, peace activist and human rights defender, Professor Monica McWilliams, Sinéad McSweeney, Managing Director of Twitter Ireland, and Cathriona Hallahan, former Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland.

Today’s event in the Round Room at the Mansion House, Dublin saw people from Ireland’s leading companies, organisations and businesses gather to support Concern’s work across the world, including Ukraine, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Afghanistan.

In 2022, the humanitarian organisation reached 36 million people in some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries to alleviate poverty and hunger.

For further information, please contact Eilis Staunton, Media Relations officer with Concern Worldwide on 085 872 0720 or

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