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Qaali puts the struggle for women in Somalia before a job in Sweden

When Kb Mosaik finally manages to get in touch with Qaali Ali Shire she and the children are visiting her mother in Nairobi. It's half way through her election campaign in Somalia.She can take a breather between all her travelling and political meetings. She lets her camera sweep over a tree full of lemons. ”There are bananas and avocados too”.
Nairobi/ Kristianstad • Publicerad 30 april 2021 • Uppdaterad 3 maj 2021
Qaali Ali Shire, who used to be a journalist at Kb Mosaik, is standing for election to parliament in Somalia in 2021. Here in her home town, Galkacyo.Foto: Privat

Qaali looks well and is enjoying life.

– I 've no problems now, she says.


No problems? Qaali hasn't chosen the easy way. A month ago she was staying at a hotel in Mogadishu. Several other politicians, civil servants and government representatives were there.

”In Sweden you can live a free life. Women in Somalia do not have the same rights and opportunities as women in other countries”
Qaali Ali Shire

– I went out to have some lunch. A few minutes later a bomb exploded inside the hotel. At least ten people were killed, including the chief of police, she says.

– Thank goodness I was outside. It was a dreadful sight.

Qaali Ali Shire lands in her home town, Galkacyo, Somalia's third-biggest town, to meet voters.Foto: Privat

Qaali can choose to go on living with her family in Sweden.

– In Sweden you can live a free life. Women in Somalia do not have the same rights and opportunities as women in other countries, I feel that I must put up a fight for the women, show that a woman can do just as much as a man. And be an example for other young women. I must take the chance and make the sacrifice.

– I want my children to be proud of me.

”A lot of people in Somalia remember me as a journalist”
Qaali Ali Shire
The meeting with voters in Galkacyo,her home town, was fantastic. ”There were so many people”, says Qaali Ali Shire.Foto: Privat
Her campaign meeting i Galkacyo drew crowds of people.Foto: Privat
Qaali Ali Shire must have many bodyguards. Here beside clan leader Sultaan Abdi Karim, who supports her campaign.Foto: Privat

How did you get the courage to go into politics?

– I asked my friends, journalists and other people, what they thought of the idea. They said I was cut out for the job, I would be able to help to make a difference. A lot of people in Somalia remember me as a journalist.

Today Qaali Ali Shire speaks excellent Swedish. She was on the staff when Kb Mosaik started five years ago. She commuted every day from Rosengård in Malmö, studied Sfi in the evenings. Her children – three at that time – lived in Uganda with their father and Qaali's mother.

In parliament 27 per cent of the members are women. Qaali Ali Shire has been successful in the first round in the election. Soon there will be a second round. ”I think I have a 70 per cent chance of succeeding”.Foto: Privat
Qaali Ali Shire is campaigning for women's rights in the election.Foto: Privat
Qaali Ali Shire wants to strengthen women's rights in Somalia.Foto: Privat
Foto: Privat

Qaali had to flee from Somalia after a terror attack. She worked as a journalist in Mogadishu on current affairs programme on TV with three million viewers.


Death threats were an everyday occurrence. Four masked men put the threat into practice, attacked her with knives and threw her into a container in the belief that she was dead. She spent six months in hospital, guarded by three bodyguards.

The family moved to Uganda. But the terrorists managed to find her there too. Her flight continued to Sweden. She left three children behind, the youngest only six months old.

Her first year in Malmö was dreadful. Qaali sat at home in her flat behind closed curtains. Nobody thought she would be able to work as a journalist in Sweden. In the end someone at the job centre managed to persuade her to try working in a clothes shop.

Some time later she found out that Kb Mosaik was looking for a Somali journalist, preferably a woman. On her first visit to the editorial office she stared in amazement at the web screens on the wall, with news from Kristianstadsbladet.

– Can I take a photo? she asked.

Is it five years since you came to Sweden?

– No, no,no, Inga-Lill, it's eight years.We met in 2016, she laughs.

The next phase in the election takes place in a few months. Before then Qaali Ali Shire will meet more voters.Foto: Privat
Qaali Ali Shire has the support of many people, including the mayor of her home town, Galkacyo, Abdi Rahaman Hassan, third from right.Foto: Privat

What does your time at Kb Mosaik mean to you?

– I learned lots of things, for example we had a Swedish teacher, it was good journalism. I'm so proud and happy to have been involved in the project for three and a half years.

”I can't live without bodyguards in Somalia”
Qaali Ali Shire

Qaali has won the election in her home town of Galkacyo. In a few months it is time for the next round in the election.


– I think I have a 70 per cent chance of making it. As a politician I'm entitled to three or four bodyguards here. I can't live without bodyguards in Somalia.

– If I don' t get into parliament , I want to live in Sweden.

The town of Galkacyo welcomed Qaali Ali Shire with open arms. She has received support from both the mayor Abdi Rahaman Hassan and clan leader Sultaan Abdi Karim.Foto: Privat
Qaali Ali Shire won the mandate from her home town, Galkacyo.Foto: Privat

Qaali Ali Shire

Age: 32.

Family: Four children aged 13, 11, 8 and 3.

Lives: in Malmö.

Grew up: in Mogadishu. Her parents come from the town of Galkacyo, a 14-hour drive from Mogadishu. Galkacyo is the town Qaali represents.

Currently: standing as a candidate in the parliamentary elections in Somalia. There are about 300 members in parliament (senate and parliament) 27 per cent are women.

Inga-Lill BengtssonSkicka e-post
Så här jobbar Mosaik Kristianstadsbladet med journalistik: uppgifter som publiceras ska vara korrekta och relevanta. Vi strävar efter förstahandskällor och att vara på plats där det händer. Trovärdighet och opartiskhet är centrala värden för vår nyhetsjournalistik.