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Hauwa Ibrahim

To mark the 75th anniversary of the first class of undergraduate women admitted to Clark in 1942, all three recipients in 2018 — Commencement speaker Hauwa Ibrahim, Susan Hanson, and Christine Ortiz — were women.


Ms. Ibrahim, you have defied traditional norms since you were a young teen, when you left home for boarding school rather than marry because you wanted to learn. Following college and law school, you became the first female lawyer in northern Nigeria. You have worked tirelessly to defend the rights of your clients, including Safiya Hussaini and Amina Lawal, both of whom had been sentenced to death by stoning under Sharia law. These women, and many other vulnerable people, are free today because of you. You have consulted with governments and organizations on human rights issues, and the European Parliament awarded you its 2005 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for your efforts on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the face of oppression and injustice. You served as Envoy for the United Nations and appeared before the United States Senate and House of Representatives. And in 2014, you joined the Nigerian Presidential Committee seeking the return of 219 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Your current research addresses the root causes of terrorism and the radicalization of youth to identify and spread best practices to help parents, and particularly mothers, prevent their children from being recruited into extremist organizations. Throughout your work, you have remained a staunch supporter of education as the critical way out of poverty, particularly for girls and women. You even used your Sakharov Prize award to send poor children in northern Nigeria to school. Mr. President, on behalf of the trustees, faculty, students, and staff of Clark University, I request that the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, be conferred on Hauwa Ibrahim.