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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fearless Somali Doctor Stares Down Warlords

Dr. Hawa Abdi is Recognized as One of Glamour Magazine's "Women of the Year"
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
For two decades, Glamour magazine has presented awards to its "Women of the Year" - women who've achieved great things and inspired others. As CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports, this year's list includes three of the strongest women you'll ever meet.

In the middle of war-torn Somalia, Dr. Hawa Abdi and her daughters have created a refuge where others can farm, learn and raise a family. Michelle Miller reports on Glamour magazine's women of the year.
It's a star-studded annual event honoring celebrities, activists and athletes.

"We've celebrated the most famous women in the world, but the women readers tell us they're the most moved by, year after year, are the women they've never heard of before," says Glamour's editor-in-chief Cindi Leive.

Women like 63-year-old Dr. Hawa Abdi and her two daughters, Deco and Amina, from Somalia.

"In war-torn Somalia they live in daily fear of rape, of death, and bands of rebels who ravage without warning," CBS Evening News Anchor Katie Couric said while introducing them at Monday's event at Carnegie Hall.

In 1991, Abdi found herself in the middle of a civil war -- an armed militia had taken over the capitol of Mogadishu.

"It was disaster, but it happened," Abdi says.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent people were forced into the countryside, where Abdi owned a nearby farm.

"It was the nearest place to get water," Abdi explains. "Many people came to me."

Twenty years later they're still coming. Abdi says they now have 90,000 people. It's much more than a refugee camp. It's 200 acres where people can farm, learn and raise a family.

She built a hospital where she and her daughters - also trained doctors - practice medicine.

Dr. Amina Mohamed is proud of her mother, "but sometimes she scares me because she's so brave."

Last May, DAbdi was held hostage for a week by al Qaeda-linked militants who were furious that a woman had become a leader to so many.

"I remained," she said. "I said 'if you want to kill me kill me, no problem someday I have to die.'"

After destroying her hospital and killing at least 20 children, the militants let her go.

"These are women who don't have to do this they could leave their country they could lead peaceful safe lives where they're not being threatened by militants every hour of every day but they refuse," Leive said.

They join a sisterhood of women recognized over the last two decades who've changed minds and changed lives - and encourage others all over the world to follow their lead.

How to Help:

Glamour is working with the nonprofit Vital Voices to distribute funds to support Dr. Abdi’s crucial work.
Source: CBS News

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