The women of Mogadishu

In Somalia, residents live with the fear of daily terrorist attacks — but these women aim to be role models for future generations, even if it means risking their lives.

Meanwhile in Somalia…

When you hear the word Somalia, you probably think of war or famine. Today, you are going to see another side of the country. For journalists, Mogadishu might be one of the most difficult and dangerous places to work in the world. Armed radical groups are everywhere, and the risk of kidnapping is very real. When our reporter Camille went there, she traveled with an escort. And as a woman, she had to wear a headscarf to blend in. Brut is bringing you inside Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, a country that has been at war for close to thirty years. Things have been even worse there since 2007, with the arrival of al-Shabab, a radical group linked to al-Qaeda. They have between 5,000 and 9,000 members throughout the country. Al-Shabab's goal is to impose Sharia — Islamic law — and on top of that, they want to overthrow the government, which is already weak and extremely corrupt.

Officially, al-Shabab was driven out of the capital in 2011. But in reality, they're still here, everywhere, mixed in with the local population

From the heart of this chaotic city, Brut brings you the daily lives of four Somalis, four women, who took huge risks to tell their stories in front of a camera. It could get them killed, and they know it. In Mogadishu, not a week goes by without an attack from al-Shabab. The deadliest one in recent months came in December 2019. More than seventy people were killed, including a bus carrying many students. Roukya is a head nurse. At her hospital alone, 2000 people are treated every month for injuries from bullets or attacks. Here, people who are usually worst enemies can end up in neighboring hospital beds. In Mogadishu, there are armed men on every corner, and checkpoints every hundred meters. You have to show your credentials constantly.

Millions of Somalis have left their home because of violence and instability

Now, some people from that diaspora are coming back to work in the country. Najma is one of them. She's 36 years old, and after 20 years in the U.S., she decided to come back to Somalia to run a fruit company. In front of the camera, Najma was extremely optimistic about her work. But when the camera was off, she said that she would rather not talk about politics -- it could end up getting her targeted by radical groups.

Education will be a huge factor in the future of Somali women

The country has one of the lowest school enrollment rates in the world. Only about a quarter of girls go to school. Our reporter met Halimo, a school principal who is trying to change things. Halimo Houssein Ali stated, “This school was opened because a lot of working women, especially women working in the informal sector, were looking for a safe place where their kids could study, a school where the safety of their kids would be guaranteed. Here, we are trying hard to educate kids in order to save them. The civil war was caused by people who didn't know their country. If these people had learned that it was possible to have a part in their country and that they had the power to influence politics, we would have avoided these problems.”

These women have amazing optimism, despite the three decades of war that their country has been through

Some of them are willing to consider a future built alongside men, and even alongside al-Shabab. That's what Fauzia is pushing for. She is one of the few women in Somali politics. She's also a candidate in the next presidential elections.