AlumnaeJul 16, 2021

updated Nov 20, 2023

BBC Honors for Ubah Ali ’16

Named one of the most inspiring women in the world

When she arrived at Miss Hall’s from Somaliland, Ubah Ali ’16 wasn’t sure what to make of the students she encountered.

“I saw all these young, courageous girls leading the School and not afraid to voice change,” recalls Ubah. “Coming from Somaliland, that was huge, because my country is very conservative, and girls are always second-class citizens. It was a culture shock for the first few months, but then I realized, this is how young women are supposed to be.”

Her Miss Hall’s experience, Ubah notes, kindled a passion for human rights, particularly women’s and children’s rights, and helped propel her to co-found two nonprofits, both focused on supporting women’s rights in Somaliland. Recently, Ubah was named to the BBC’s 2020 list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world.

“Seeing how young girls were leading at Miss Hall’s, that motivated me, that I could also be an agent of change, that I could lead, that I could challenge the system, and that I could raise my voice,” she explains. “That’s why I created my own organization and why I became an activist and feminist in my country, because I saw the potential of women.”

We need more women to join and raise their voices to challenge the narrative of human rights in my country.

After graduating from MHS, Ubah returned to Somaliland, where she interned for a year as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and mentor to orphaned students at the Abaarso School, which she herself attended before MHS. Applying to college, she received a full scholarship from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program to attend the American University of Beirut, where she is now a senior, studying politics and international law.

In 2018, Ubah co-founded Solace for Somaliland Girls, which aims to eradicate all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Somaliland. More recently, she and her colleagues launched a second organization that aims to support girls and women who are survivors of FGM by offering them business opportunities to create and sell products, while reflecting on their experiences and healing physically and emotionally.

Currently applying to graduate schools, Ubah graduated in May. Ultimately, she wants to return to Somaliland and get involved in policy-making — a role that includes few women in her country.

And, she still frequently talks about MHS. “Even my mother says, ’You never get tired of this school,’” explains Ubah. “She says, ‘It’s been five years, and you still talk about it.’ And, I say, ‘Of course. I have to talk about it. Miss Hall’s helped me become who I am today.’”