Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Winning Women: Idil Abdi

Meet Idil Abdi ,A social activist,  a youth peace ambassador, an executive MBA holder and a K-pop fan, these are only the few things you can use to describe this
26 year old lady. She is very passionate about women empowerment and expresses so in her everyday life,whether its through her career or her daily life as a woman, i can attest to this first hand. Read below my interview with her, she is an absolute inspiration to me, i hope you get inspired by her as well.

1.Tell us a little about yourself, who is Idil?
I was born and raised in Somalia, and I think that has a great impact on the kind of person I am today and who I want to become in the future. I’m 26 years old and I am passionate about social reformation in Somalia, fashion and women empowerment. I always find this the hardest question to answer, I mean there is so much to say but at the same time there is not enough.

2. What do you do for a living?
I am a risk Management Consultant and this takes different forms in different organisations. For example in businesses that provide products and services, my job would entail assessing and monitoring financial, operational and credit risk among others. For NGOs and aid agencies, I focus on security risk especially in the Horn of Africa region.
Recently I’ve been named a Youth Peace Ambassador and that’s been a huge change. I am fortunate enough to have two very interesting jobs where I get to meet a lot of different people and make the most of my education and experience.

3.When did you join ICRC and how has that changed your life?
I joined ICRC in November 2015, before that I was working for the World Health Organisation as a HR officer so going from that to risk management was quite intense! I mean, one minute I was drawing up contracts and processing leave days and the next minute I was dealing with high pressure tasks such as security threats in Somalia. It was an exciting change to say the least.

4. You were in Doha recently, can you tell us more about the Arab-European Young Leaders Forum?
The Arab-European Young leader’s forum was my first task as a Youth Peace Ambassador. It is a fairly new program that brings together young leaders from the Arab world and European countries creating an environment for dialogue and problem solving. Many people don’t know this but Somalia is part of the Arab League and I was fortunate enough to be the country’s representative this year. It was one of the most inspiring programs I have participated in. I learnt a lot and had the privilege of introducing Somali culture to the young leaders I met there. Together, we are now working on several new projects targeting Somali youth. One such project, which is to take place next year, is on female education and empowerment. Power to the girls, right!

5. What do you do on your free time?
When I’m not working I am either at the gym or unwinding with friends, I find both very therapeutic. I also enjoy reading and I built a small library in my room which I’m quite fond of! Recently, I picked up horse riding, it is something that I have always wanted to do but never really got around to. Lastly, anyone who knows me is aware that I am kind of obsessed with Kpop (Korean pop music). I spend a considerable amount of time listening to Korean music and watching Kdramas. I have been learning the Korean language and culture for about a year now and I just might pack up and move there one day.

6. From your Instagram, you are an avid fashion lover, how would you describe your style?
I have always been into fashion, as a little girl I tried to find unique outfits, and if I couldn’t, I would cut up and try to put a twist on the dresses I had, as you can imagine I ruined a lot of my clothes that way. In high school I tried to “remix” my uniform and it worked, that was when my fashion obsession took off. I have very specific taste and I never really find what I am looking for in shops, so I try to design my own outfits then give sketches to a tailor who would make them according to my taste.
I like my style to be unique but more than that I want it to represent modesty. Growing up I thought that I could either to be modest or be fashionable, and it wasn’t until I made a cute skirt for my high school uniform that I realised I could be both. I think it is important Muslim girls see that being covered can be stylish.
7. What’s the must have beauty item in your bag?
I recently discovered blotting tissues and I could not be more excited! These are thin, absorbent pocket-sized sheets that remove excess surface oil. I have oily skin and while I occasionally get a laugh out of people mistaking it for dewy make-up, it’s not very comfortable and I would often have to redo my powder which is a long process especially when I’m at work. Blotting tissues save me a lot of time and keep my make-up from caking, it’s wonderful.

8. You’re also a foodie, what restaurants in Nairobi are a must try?
I really like Sushi, which I know not many people are into. I love Ginza Japanese restaurant in Galana plaza, I will never understand how they make better Sushi than the Japanese but I am glad they do. For people who are not big fans of Sushi, they also make the best Chicken Teryaki. I also like the ambiance at River Café-Karura and About Thyme restaurant, that’s where I would normally go with friends.

9. What life motto do you live by?
There is an Arminian saying that goes ‘The world agrees on one thing; time is golden’. I love that saying and I took a lot from it. I try to do a lot with the little time I have on this earth and make the most of it. I don’t try to do or be one thing or the other and I just go for everything I like. From being a good Muslim, to a social activist, to a kpop fanatic, I try to be everything I like. Similarly I try not to waste any time on things that don’t benefit me or those around me because time really is golden.

   10. What message do you have for younger girls who look up to you and would someday like to be in your position?

I would encourage every girl to believe in herself, to work hard and aim high, to learn from failure and to not be so hard on herself because let’s be honest, society is hard enough on us as women. I’d encourage girls to always encourage one another in whatever capacity they hold, whether it’s letting a girl on the street know her shoes are fabulous, or helping a friend work on her CV so she can apply for her dream job. 

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