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article imageTurkish Airlines and Irish Youth Team Up in Fight against FGM Special

By Farid Abdulhamid     Nov 27, 2012 in World
Toronto - On Sunday, November 25, 2012, the United Youth of Ireland hosted a Conference and Miss Ethnic Ireland 2013 Beauty Contest to raise awareness on Female Genital Mutilation on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
At the end of the colourful pageant, that took place at the Westin Hotel, Westmoreland St. in Dublin, Sheelan Yosefizedah was crowned Miss Ethnic Ireland 2013 while Anisha Joy was declared the First Runner Up and Aoife O'Brien the Second Runner Up. Betsie Brown was named FGM Ambassador 2013, Adrianna Janiszewska took the Miss Photo Award and Abiola Omotayo clinched the Miss Personality title.
According to the United Youth of Ireland, a multi-ethnic group of young people, “Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), is a brutal cultural practice which has affected up to 140 million women and girls worldwide. Over two thousand women now living in Ireland are understood to have suffered this violation and the Irish Government outlawed the practice of FGM earlier this year by enacting The Criminal Justice (FGM) Act 2012”
United against FGM: Ifrah Ahmed (3rd left) with Onur  Betsie Brown  Sheelan Yousefizedah  Gilian Luu...
United against FGM: Ifrah Ahmed (3rd left) with Onur, Betsie Brown, Sheelan Yousefizedah, Gilian Luu, Aoife O'Brien
TomaszBobowskiPhotography
Beautiful UYI models. From Left: Betsie Brown Sheelan Yousefizadeh  Aoife O Brien and Gilian Luu dur...
Beautiful UYI models. From Left: Betsie Brown,Sheelan Yousefizadeh, Aoife O'Brien and Gilian Luu during the Turkish Airlines anti-FGM photo call.
TomaszBobowskiPhotography
Event Organiser Ifrah Ahmed, founding member of the United Youth of Ireland and Amnesty International Strong Voice for Ending FGM said the event brought together young people from all over Dublin, many of whom are recent migrants to Ireland, to raise awareness of the harmful traditional practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as one form of gender based violence.
“Important progress has been made by campaigners including members of United Youth of Ireland to ensure the practice of FGM has been made illegal in Ireland. The Criminal Justice (FGM) Act 2012 was enacted in April 2012 and outlaws the practice of FGM in Ireland. It also makes it illegal for individuals in Ireland to take a girl abroad to have FGM performed. Events such as this are important to raise awareness of FGM and to ensure that FGM is eliminated in practice and not only in law” said Ifrah.
Miss Ethnic Ireland 2013  Sheelan Yousefizadeh
Miss Ethnic Ireland 2013, Sheelan Yousefizadeh
Photo: WP
The conference and fashion show built on the successes of many previous events attended by hundreds of native Irish, African-Irish and a variety of immigrant communities.
According to Ifrah Ahmed, Miss Ethnic Ireland 2013 represented “a beauty contest with a difference, showcasing Dublin’s beauty and diversity and designed to appeal to young people by combining a serious discussion with live music, a DJ, a beauty contest and the selection of the End FGM Ambassador 2012-2013.”
Apart from the general public, the event was attended by diplomats, the Turkish Ambassador in Ireland, Members of European Parliament (MEPs) and councillors. It featured keynote speakers including Emer Costello, Member of European Parliament who discussed the new 2012 Irish legislation on FGM which is now harmonised with existing legislations in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales and most of the EU Member States.
Ifrah Ahmed speaks during the Dublin conference/Miss Ethnic Ireland beauty pageant to raise awarenes...
Ifrah Ahmed speaks during the Dublin conference/Miss Ethnic Ireland beauty pageant to raise awareness on FGM.
Photo: Robert Samson
Beautiful UYI models  United against FGM: From left: Aoife O Brien  Zainab Husseini Akwanga  Sheelan...
Beautiful UYI models, United against FGM: From left: Aoife O'Brien, Zainab Husseini Akwanga, Sheelan Yousefizadeh,Gilian Luu, Betsie Brown,unidentified official, Ifrah Ahmed, Dominka Walus, Julia Nikerina, Adriana Janiszewska and Abiola Omotayo.
TomaszBobowskiPhotography.
Activist Betty Makoni spoke on why the Girl Child Network (GCN) was founded and provided a summary of work to date, harmful traditional practices and their impact on girls as well as the importance of protecting girls.
This year’s event received a massive boost through the support of the Turkish Airlines and the government of Turkey in general.
On this note, His Excellency, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Ireland Mr. Ahmet Altay Cengizer informed the public why the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey supported the event. The Ambassador further highlighted the significance of the Council of European Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence erstwhile known as the Istanbul Convention, its main content and themes and potential impact.
UYI model  Gilian Luu.
UYI model, Gilian Luu.
TomaszBobowskiPhotography
UYI model  Aoife O Brien
UYI model, Aoife O'Brien
TomaszBobowskiPhotography
Due to its massive involvement in humanitarian and development initiatives in Somalia, the Turkish government has moved to support Ifrah Ahmed, the young Irish activist of Somali descent, in her crusade against FGM and overall advocacy for women’s rights. Ifrah, a long time refugee advocate, human rights activist and cultural ambassador, received a pleasant surprise when the Turkish Airlines, a national carrier, flew in a special plane from Turkey for a photo call in Dublin, the Irish capital, in support of UYI and Miss Ethnic Ireland’s stance against FGM.
The stunningly beautiful Ifrah Ahmed during the Dublin Conference /fashion show.
The stunningly beautiful Ifrah Ahmed during the Dublin Conference /fashion show.
IA
Ifrah Ahmed (right) with Honourable Joe Costello (middle)  Ireland s Minister of State at the Depart...
Ifrah Ahmed (right) with Honourable Joe Costello (middle), Ireland's Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Mrs. Emer Costello (left) Member of European Parliament.
Art Photos.
The Turkish Airlines Photo-Call in Dublin featured 5 models selected via a lottery from a list of 19 beautiful Miss Ethnic Ireland 2013 contestants. It has provided much needed publicity for the innovative anti-FGM cause.
Ifrah Ahmed noted that Turkey is doing a great work in her native homeland, rebuilding the war-torn nation through the infusion of massive aid and deployment of hundreds of aid workers and engineers on the ground.
“Turkey is the first country to respond to last year’s humanitarian crisis in Somalia when Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family landed in Mogadishu, bringing much needed aid to the suffering Somali population. On the diplomatic front, the Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister has also visited Somalia while Turkey has opened its Embassy in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Turkish Airlines is the first carrier to provide direct international flight to Mogadishu. Turkey is actively supporting the rights of Somali women. I am so happy that the Turkish government has built cordial relations with Somalia and is assisting the country get back on its feet” said Ifrah who feels Somalia is now making real progress.
UYI model  Betsie Brown.
UYI model, Betsie Brown.
TomaszBobowskiPhotography
UYI model  Sheelan Yousefizadeh.
UYI model, Sheelan Yousefizadeh.
TomaszBobowskiPhotography
Ifrah is happy that the Irish government, which recently made a €3 million in life-saving aid to Somalia, is stepping up efforts to help the war-ravaged nation.
“Ireland is a small country with a big heart. I am proud of the fact that the Irish government has set foot on Somalia when Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore visited the country in July. In the near future, I would like to see Irish Aid move into Somalia and for Somalia to open an embassy in Ireland. I am happy to live in a country where I can use my voice and make change.”
Ifrah has resisted attempts by her supporters who want her to get into politics or to be one day named as Somalia’s ambassador to Ireland.
“I think I am too young to become an ambassador. I am happy with the work I do now, fighting for the rights of others especially women. In the past, I did modelling and faced a hostile reaction from certain quarters in my community. But I decided that human rights advocacy is something special I can work on. Through the Ifrah Foundation, I continue to work with Somali women and plan to provide training for activists and women to educate them about FGM and basic health.” Said Ifrah.
Ifrah Ahmed (left) and Alvaro.
Ifrah Ahmed (left) and Alvaro.
TomaszBobowskiPhotography.
Onur  Ifrah Ahmed and Tomas Bobowski.
Onur, Ifrah Ahmed and Tomas Bobowski.
TomaszBobowskiPhotography.
Empowerment, Ifrah emphasizes, is key to emancipation of Somali women.
“I would always be there for Somali women. I would like to see our women empower themselves and to stay strong in the face adversity.”
Apart from refugee advocacy and human rights activism, Ifrah is a well known cultural ambassador promoting Somali culture and fashion in Ireland and throughout Europe.
Ifrah Ahmed striking a beautiful pose during the Dublin Conference/Fashion Show.
Ifrah Ahmed striking a beautiful pose during the Dublin Conference/Fashion Show.
TomaszBobowskiPhotography.
Ifrah Ahmed (left)  with Honourable Joe Costello  Ireland s Minister of State at the Department of F...
Ifrah Ahmed (left), with Honourable Joe Costello, Ireland's Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (2nd left) and Mrs. Emer Costello, Member of European Parliament.
Photo: Silver Merick Studio.
United against FGM: Ifrah Ahmed (3rd left) with Onur  Betsie Brown  Sheelan Yousefizedah  Gilian Luu...
United against FGM: Ifrah Ahmed (3rd left) with Onur, Betsie Brown, Sheelan Yousefizedah, Gilian Luu, Aoife O'Brien
TomaszBobowskiPhotography
Ifrah Ahmed (left) with Zainab Husseini Akwanga.
Ifrah Ahmed (left) with Zainab Husseini Akwanga.
TomaszBobowskiPhotography.
From left: Gilian Luu  Aoife O Brien  Ifrah Ahmed  Alvaro  Nancy Derby  Sheelan Yousefizadeh and Bet...
From left: Gilian Luu, Aoife O'Brien, Ifrah Ahmed, Alvaro, Nancy Derby, Sheelan Yousefizadeh and Betsie Brown.
TomaszBobowskiPhotography
Inside the cabin of Turkish Airlines. From left: Gilian Luu  Aoife O Brien  Ifrah Ahmed  Sheelan You...
Inside the cabin of Turkish Airlines. From left: Gilian Luu, Aoife O'Brien, Ifrah Ahmed, Sheelan Yousefizadeh and Betsie Brown.
TomaszBobowskiPhotography.
United againt FGM: Miss Ethnic Ireland 2013  Sheelan Yousefizadeh  is joined by fellow contestants i...
United againt FGM: Miss Ethnic Ireland 2013, Sheelan Yousefizadeh, is joined by fellow contestants in a group photo.
TomasBobowskiPhotography.
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