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How Iman Helps Women in Somalia

Iman is an inspiring woman

Iman is a woman known primarily for being a fashion model but, like supermodel Coco Rocha, really she is so much more. There is, after all, more to you than solely your career or by your looks, isn’t there? The same holds true of this woman. Iman helps women in Somalia.

Background of Iman

While Iman is publicly known just by her first name, her full name is Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid. She is Somalian; her name in Somali is Imaan Maxamed Cabdimajiid. She is Muslim and speaks five languages fluently, which are Somali, English, Arabic, French, and Italian. She grew up in Mogadishu, which is the biggest city in Somalia, and later graduated from the University of Nairobi in Nairobi, Kenya, with a degree in Political Science.

It was while Iman was in university that she was discovered by fashion photographer Peter Beard, who encouraged her to pursue a modeling career. With modeling in mind, 19-year-old Iman moved to the United States. Just one year later she was modeling for Vogue; the year was 1976. Since then, she has modeled for leading designers that include Donna Karan, Issey Miyake, and Calvin Klein.

Iman assists helping Somali women
Somali Women, Dr. Hawa Abdi included here.

Iman and Charity Work with Dr. Hawa Abdi

In 2014, Iman received a top honor for her charity work at Variety’s luncheon in Manhattan called “Power of Women: New York.” Other women honored included Susan Sarandon and Sarah Jessica Parker. Iman was chosen for her charity work done with the Somalia-based Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation.

The organization provides medical care and necessities like shelter and fresh drinking water to the people of Somalia. Iman helps raise awareness for the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation by co-hosting fundraisers and using her celebrity status to share messages about the foundation to urge people to help with the cause for which the foundation stands. In particular, the foundation focuses on women and children.

This cause is close to Iman’s heart as it is about helping people from her homeland of Somalia. Iman fled Somalia with her family in 1972. She talks about the flee on foot with her family in her speech at the “Power of Women: New York” event.

Also, in an interview with The Guardian, she discusses how if she had not been discovered by photographer Peter Beard that her life might have been very different: “There are people who have been in refugee camps for 20 years, and I could be one of them.”

Iman Talks about Her Charity Work

Below is a snippet of a press interview with Iman in which she discusses her charity work for which the event honored her. I narrowed the video down to start at the section on Iman, and it is less than a minute long. I hope you enjoy her brief but empowering words.

HLN video of Iman on YouTube

In the video above, I like how Iman says she supports “work on the ground” as that way you really know where your donated money is going. In other words, the donated funds are going toward the needy people rather than to the administrator or upper management.

Today Iman is retired from modeling and is married to music legend David Bowie. She continues her charity work with the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation to help the women in Somalia.

13 thoughts on “How Iman Helps Women in Somalia”

  1. Kristy,

    Thank you so much for sharing the post on Iman. It is inspirational to read about a woman who has used her success to empower other women from her homeland. I never realized the passion she had for the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation and the number of people this charity has helped. It is a sad commentary how extremists have suppressed women in Somalia and no longer allow them to get an education. However, it is a tribute to Iman that she has devoted her life to helping women from her country.

    Another great post. Have a wonderful week.


  2. Great post!… How neat that her name is Iman as the “muslims priests” are called Imans!…
    Interesting post and I think her actions are empowering, even more considering that many regions and african countries are being threatened by Boko Haram’s radical muslims extremists.Thanks for sharing, Chris… All the best to you & happy week ahead! Aquileana :D

  3. I always knew Iman was up to something good! Thanks for shining light on her charitable work for Somalia.
    I feel sad for Somalia when I read her 2014 quote about how women have less freedom, schools have vanished and it is run by extremists.
    Considering she and her family had to flee on foot, things could not have been great back then, yet now they are worse.
    It’s hard to think that a society that marginalizes women, to the point of moving backwards, is moving forward in time.

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