ABOUT IFRAH FOUNDATION

The absolute abandonment of FGM in Somalia and the horn of Africa, in collaboration with a coalition of partners.

OUR VISION

OUR MISSION

  •  Create a path for the cultural abandonment of FGM/C 

  • Coordinate awareness-raising, advocacy and community empowerment initiatives with our partners

  • Implement FGM/C survivor support systems.

"Be the voice, not the victim"

Ifrah Ahmed

Ifrah Foundation was founded in 2010 by Ifrah Ahmed, an Irish citizen originally from Somalia. Ifrah Foundation has been active in Somalia since 2013, where it is a registered Civil Society Organisation (CSO). Ifrah Foundation is also a registered charity in Ireland. 

Ifrah Ahmed is one of the world's top international FGM/C eradication advocates and activists. Ifrah has received multiple awards for her work and she campaigns relentlessly for legislation to ban FGM/C around the world. Ifrah is the Gender Advisor to the Government in Somalia.

Ifrah Foundation aims to:

  • Support the work of Ifrah Ahmed

  • Implement a National FGM/C Eradication Program in Somalia

  • Support similar initiatives in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region in Africa.

IFRAH'S RECENT ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Ifrah became the first woman to broadcast her testimony about undergoing FGM/C.

  • Over one million people sign a petition to the Somalian president for the introduction of FGM/C legislation.
     

  • Ifrah appointed as Gender Advisor to the President of Somalia.

  • Ifrah appointed as Human Rights advisor to the Government of Somalia.
     

  • The first high-level conference of political and religious stakeholders convenes to debate FGM/C.

  • Initiated18-month in-depth research study on the status of FGM/C in Somalia.
     

  • Authored the methodology for the National Action Plan FGM/C abandonment in Somalia. 

  • Co-ordinated the first National Gathering on FGM attended by the Government Ministers.
     

  • Co-ordinated the Global Media Campaign Media Training Academy in Mogadishu.
     

  • Steering the Attorney General to commit to the first ever prosecution of FGM/C in Somalia following world-wide traction on the story of the death of 10-year old Deequa, who bled to death after the procedure.

OUR TEAM

 STAFF 

Ifrah Ahmed: Founder & Programme Director


Ifrah Ahmed is an Irish/Somali activist, campaigner and CSO director working in the field of FGM/C abandonment. She set up her first CSO, United Youth of Ireland in 2008, in response to youth immigrant integration issues in her country of adoption. From personal experience, she leant her voice to the FGM/C campaign in Ireland and further afield in Europe and turned her focus to the specific gender issue of FGM/C by founding the CSO that carries her name in 2010. Ifrah Foundation was founded in 2010 and is now a charitable foundation registered in Ireland and Somalia since 2017. Ifrah Foundation has partnered on a wide variety of projects delivering impactful results with international NGOs and has formed strategic partnerships with governmental agencies on policy and legislation, international media experts and community empowerment and education programs at grass roots level. Ifrah's focus over the past four years has been to deliver programs in Somalia intended to provide the evidence-based results that inform Ifrah Foundation’s scoping of its proposed National Action Plan for the Abandonment of FGM/C in Somalia in line with the UN SDG of FGM/C eradication by 2030.




Leonie Kerins: Executive Director


Leonie has worked in the field of human rights and social justice for over 20 years. Having spent almost 12 years working for Doras, a human rights based NGO supporting asylum seekers, refugees and migrants secure access to their rights, she joined the Foundation in November 2018. Prior to that, Leonie obtained a Bachelors Degree in Social Sciences (B. Soc. Sc.) from the University College Cork, followed by a Master of Science in Population and Development Studies (MSc Pop. Dev.) from the London School of Economics and Political Science where her research dissertation looked at Ireland’s Integration Policies (completed in 2007). Having emigrated to France in 1992, Leonie spend over 10 years working for the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris. Many of these years were on the Africa Desk working as part of a team guiding African governments through the World Heritage application process. During her time at UNESCO, Leonie was routinely seconded to the Secretariat of the Executive Board, UNESCO’s decision-making body. A fluent French speaker, Leonie gained experience in providing support service for English speakers in Paris and volunteered for several years with an organisation there.




Dr Louise Dawson: Policy and Programme Consultant


Dr Louise Dawson has worked in the area of social justice for over 25 years with a specific interest in advocacy and health. Louise has worked extensively as a Researcher, Case Manager, Professional Advocate, Mediator, Guardian Ad Litem and Independent Expert Witness. Her professional experiences extend across a range of community based projects internationally including Uk, Ireland, Holland and Sweden.




Abdifatah: Advocacy Coordinator - Dear Daughter Campaign, Somalia


I was born and raised in Somalia. I received my primary and secondary education in my home country, and also completed my first degree in neighboring Ethiopia. I have prepared my undergraduate degree in social sciences especially international relations and diplomacy.
After graduation, for the last 10 years I have joined humanitarian organizations working in Somalia in various capacities. My work has included human rights issues, peace building and conflict resolution, and gender-based violence. My work has included giving training workshops on gender-based violence, teaching people how to deal with victims of sexual harassment, how to provide psychological support GBV case management and how to guide victims in areas where they can get help.
I have worked in the central regions of Somalia, Puntland and southern Somalia. I love promoting my profession as a human rights advocate.





 BOARD MEMBERS 

Professor Chris Fitzpatrick


BA, FRCPI, FRCOG, FRCS (Ed), Dip GUMed, Dip Tropical Med
Professor Chris Fitzpatrick is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist (and former Master/CEO) of the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital and Clinical Professor in the School of Medicine, University College Dublin. His special areas of interest include urogynaecology, medical education and training, medicine and the arts, and global women’s health. “Standing next to Ifrah Ahmed in a Dublin mosque, as a Muslim cleric issued a fatwa on FGM, it struck me that this truly remarkable African-Irish woman could change the world”. Professor Chris Fitzpatrick




Caroline Keeling


Caroline Keeling is the CEO of Keelings. Keelings is a 100% Irish-owned family business which started producing fruits and salads on their farm in the 1930’s supplying produce to local Dublin markets. Keelings are focused on growing and sourcing the best fresh produce from around the world.

The Company has expanded to its current size with 4 divisions – Keelings Retail, Keelings Select, Keelings International and Keelings Knowledge. Keelings is headquartered in FoodCentral, Co. Dublin, Ireland but has operations in Ireland, the UK, Europe, South & Central America and Asia. Keelings employs over 2,000 people.

Keelings launched its branded range of produce into stores in 2010 and since then it has gone from strength to strength. Kantar Worldpanel recently disclosed the Top 100 FMCG brands in Ireland, ranking Keelings at #15 this year. As well as the standard range of punnets, the brand has also released a number of innovative products including the family platter, the twin pack and the Snack Pot range.

As well as fresh produce, Keelings has developed produce-specific ERP software solutions, consultancy and management services. Keelings Knowledge supplies a suite of software and services that provides industry focused solutions in procurement, stock management, warehouse and production planning & management, as well as sales and quality assurance.

Caroline has a BSc (Chem) & MSc in Food Science which she obtained from University College Dublin (UCD). Caroline started her career with Green Isle Foods, going on to join Keelings as Technical Manager in 1994. Caroline is a Board Member of Bord Bia, the National Maternity Hospital, The Ifrah Foundation, Valid Nutrition and SEI. She is Chair of the Consumer Foods Board of Bord Bia, the Dublin Action Plan for Jobs Implementation Committee, and a member of the Export Trade Council.




Samantha Leslie


Sammy Leslie, Guardian of Castle Leslie Estate. The Castle Leslie Estate, Co. Monaghan is one of only a small number of the Great Irish Estates still in the hands of its founding family. The estate was first established in 1665. Sammy Leslie returned home to Ireland to run the estate with her siblings in 1991 at the age of 24. In 2001, she took over the castle's full ownership and established it as a Trust.

The business has evolved into a multi-award winning country house estate hotel, complete with a world-class equestrian centre, a converted lodge complete with accommodation, spa, bar and restaurant and self-catering cottages on the Estate.

Sammy first initiated the concept of the Leslie Foundation in 2012 as a vehicle to protect and share the natural and built heritage of Castle Leslie Estate, Glaslough village and the surrounding region. She has acted as a Trustee of Birr Castle for the past 20 years and the Irish Heritage Trust for 10 years.

It was her sister Antonia’s support of Pamela Izevbekhai and her daughters that made Sammy aware of the plight of those living with or fearing FGM. With her experience in the non-profit sector, she was able to offer her support in setting up the Ifrah Foundation and to help support Ifrah's goal of ending FGM for good.

Ifrah currently lives with Sammy when she is in Ireland and they enjoy sharing recipes and cooking Somali and Irish foods. Ifrah makes a mean pancake. Sammy has been on voluntary boards for 20 years. Sammy is a founding board member of the Ifrah Foundation.




Mary McGuckian


Mary McGuckian has been producing, writing and directing independent feature films for over twenty years. Her most recent film, A Girl from Mogadishu, based on the testimony of Ifrah Ahmed, marks her twelfth independent auteur film.

Mary’s films have been presented at festivals worldwide both in and out of competition on many occasions including Sundance and Tribeca in the US, Locarno and Venice in Europe, and Edinburgh, London and Galway in her home countries.

She was the 2009 the recipient of the Annual Achievement Award from the Women's International Film and Television Awards in Los Angeles and many of her films have received ‘best film’ awards from a numerous American feature film festivals.

Collaborating actors on past pictures include Orla Brady and Vincent Perez in The Price of Desire, (2015); Donald Sutherland in Man On The Train with and Larry Mullen Jr. (2011); The Amorality Trilogy Plus One (2006-2010), four films with an international ensemble cast included Lothaire Bluteau, Donna D’Errico, Colm Feore, Rupert Graves, Ian Hart, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jordi Molla, Andie MacDowell, Bill Patterson, Amanda Plummer, Jennifer Tilly, John Sessions, and Sarah Stockbridge; and her current director’s cut project, The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2005) with Kathy Bates, Gabriel Byrne, Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, The Polish Brothers and F. Murray Abraham, is in the works.

The opportunity to work at home in Ireland on a story as compelling as Ifrah’s with a cast as diverse and inclusive as Aja Naomi King, Barkhad Abdi, Martha Canga Antonio and Maryam Mursals supported by Orla Brady, Pauline McLynn and Stanley Townsend also afforded Mary the opportunity to engage with Ifrah’s foundation in a meaningful way. Her hope is that with the profile of a feature film based on Ifrah's life story, will come a commitment to the level of funding required to implement and sustain the National Action Plan Ifrah’s foundation has been developing since 2016.




Cormac O'Ceallaigh


Cormac O'Ceallaigh is the principal of Cormac O'Ceallaigh & Co Solicitors, a general law practice with a specific focus on charity law, advising charities and not-for-profits. Cormac has 20 years experience in this area and has acted in the setting up of Irish based charities and international charities that have established operations in Ireland. He has served on the board of various charities and is the former chairperson of the CBM Ireland, an NGO involved in international development. He has dealt with charities from the legal set up stage, to mergers, change of legal structure, winding up of trusts and advice following the establishment of the Charity Regulatory Authority and the new changes it has brought in. He has lectured at the Law Society of Ireland on their certificate in Charity Law, Trusteeship and Governance programme.




Paul Mee


A chartered accountant with more than 20 years' taxation experience, Paul joined Mazars in 2007 from HC Tax and Business Services Limited where he was managing director. Paul leads Mazars Galway team of tax professionals in providing advice on property development and investment, development and agricultural land sales, tax planning for owner managed businesses including succession planning, and general tax planning services. Paul also specialises in film finance (section 481), corporate reorganizations and due diligence and transaction support. Paul's in-depth knowledge of the Galway business community is an invaluable asset to our clients in the region.




Zahra Naleie


Zahra Naleie was born and raised in Somalia until she moved to the Netherlands to study gender studies. In 1994 she was one of the founders of the Federation of Somali Associations in the Netherlands (FSAN). In 1996 she started in to discuss female genital mutilation not only in the Somali community, but also in communities from other African countries. 'I started discussing the problem everywhere in the Netherlands with the aim of ending female circumcision.' FSAN is part of the Alliance Change from Within. For more information about FSAN, visit fsan.nl. Zahra was also a founding member of the End FGM European Metwork and board member from 2015-2019, she also has decades of experience working within communities who practice FGM and brings that experince to the Ifrah Foundaiton.





 PATRON 

Sabina Coyne Higgins


Sabina Coyne, now Sabina Coyne Higgins, was born in Cloonrane on the Galway/Mayo
border and went to school in Ballindine and Claremorris, Co. Mayo. She was the sixth of
seven children of John and Mary (nee Kilkenny) Coyne.

Sabina moved to Dublin where she worked in the Land Commission. She studied
Speech and Stage Craft at the Brendan Smith Academy. When Deirdre O’Connell came
from the Actor’s Studio in New York and founded the Dublin Stanislavsky Studio Drama School in 1963, Sabina was one of her first students – she was later Deirdre’s
bridesmaid when Deirdre married Luke Kelly of the Dubliners. In 1967, they founded Dublin Focus Theatre with Tom Hickey, Timmy McDonald, Declan & Mary Elizabeth Burke Kennedy, Dick Callanan, Joan Bergin and others. Sabina was prominent in the public performances of the Stanislavski Improvisation Theatre and later the Focus Improvisational Theatre.
Focus productions were modern classics from around the world – Ibsen, Strindberg,
Chekhov, Anouilh, Camus, Beckett, Hellman, Sorayan, Millar, and T. Williams etc.
Sabina met Michael D. Higgins in 1969 at a party in Dublin, in women’s journalist
Mary Kenny’s home. In 1974 they were married in Dublin’s Haddington Road Church.
Sabina moved to Galway. There, in addition to working as a partner with Michael D. in
every campaign and in public life for over thirty years, she maintained her involvement
with Theatre and Community Arts, and with Womens’ Groups. Sabina was also very
active in community initiatives in Galway and in particular in education. She was very
involved in the setting up of Parents’ Councils on a local and national level to promote
parents as partners in education. She was chairperson for a time of the Parent’s
Council of the Jesuit –The Jes– Secondary School.

Sabina has a BA in Arts and an MA in Theatre from NUI Galway. Sabina and President Higgins have four children, one daughter, Alice Mary, and three sons, John, Michael Edward and Daniel.