In Her Own Words

Sagal Abas Bafo, Yemen

“The global pandemic has ultimately shown us the importance of women-led approaches and initiatives in providing alternative insights and solutions. Local women’s organizations have demonstrated their unique ability to quickly mobilize and effectively provide humanitarian assistance to those that need it.”

Sagal Abas Bafo is a grassroots feminist and youth activist, born to Somali refugees. Sagal works with SOS Center for Youth Capabilities Development, an organization supported by WPHF through its COVID-19 Emergency Funding Window.

“As a Black Muslim woman and feminist there is a long list of challenges that I experience, including racism and discrimination. I am viewed as a woman that comes from an oppressive background. Within my Somali community, it is gender inequality and patriarchy, Inter-generational trauma and violence that pose a challenge to my existence.”

SOS Center is a women and youth rights organization which has been responding to the impact that Yemen’s conflict has had on communities. It provides capacity building training and resources to local civil society organizations, women’s right group, activists, youth groups, traditional community leaders, and government officials.

“All of my experiences inspire me to envision an alternative new world for my fellow sisters and me. I feel determined to challenge and question systems and practices and construct our narrative and story.”

Sagal and SOS Center are working to respond to the global pandemic alongside local women-led CSOs and activists, supporting their increased capacity to coordinate, lead and participate meaningfully in community-based COVID-19 response.

“Our project ensures that local communities have equal opportunities to protect themselves from humanitarian crises and, most importantly, maintain their resilience and empowerment, which is necessary for inclusive peace.”

They are using social media platforms, advocacy and campaigning techniques to disseminate critical information, not only on COVID-19 but also to create awareness on gender-based violence and building peace.

“My advice to the next generation of women and girls within my community is to re-imagine and cultivate your own world and reality. While our circumstances and experience may have been a struggle, it is only one part of the story.”

Young activists, like Sagal, are creating new dialogue about the role of young women in transforming the future in Yemen and building feminist movements for social change.

“Many local women came before us who managed to overcome the challenges and barriers posed on them to radically transform entire communities and societies. They led independence movements, created a feminist revolution and disrupted systems and practices that were not designed for them – and instead, cultivated new possibilities of social change.”