Safiyo Jama Gayre, a 60-year-old Somali grandmother, graduates with a degree in law from Puntland State University in Somalia.
Safiyo, who is the oldest in her class, says she decided to go back to school to prove that age is not a barrier for a person to graduate and start a career in law.
She hopes to use her legal expertise to participate in building the justice sector in the war-torn Somalia, according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“I know I am a mother and a grandmother, but I am also a person who loves school, and I would study the rest of my life if the opportunity came along, because I want my life to be more meaningful,” Safiyo told UNDP.
Safiyo joined the university in 2012 through a scholarship programme by the UNDP, which assists tens of students in Somalia to join Puntland State University to study law.
For decades, women in Somalia have tolerated a biased effect of hardships occasioned by retrogressive cultural practices and beliefs as well as the decades-long civil conflict.
Given Somalia is predominantly an Islamic society a lot of women are excluded from formal decision making and asset ownership. Others have to operate through patriarchal filters, which make them feel inferior.
Before joining the university, Safiyo says she didn’t belief she could achieve her dream of becoming a lawyer. She also had to defy numerous social and cultural barriers to go through school.
“However, after the results of the entrance exam were released, I scored the second highest points,” she told UNDP.
She plans to inspire other Somali women by educating them on the benefits of going to school.