Halimatou “Halima” Hima is an advocate for women and children’s rights who has worked with over 100 villages and youth across Niger to understand and find solutions for the many issues that face the nation. Born and raised in Arlit, a small town in the middle of the sub-Saharan desert in northern Niger, Halima grew up focused on her education and became the president of Niger’s Youth Parliament at the age of 15. During this time Halima worked on national campaigns focused on improving education for girls, especially in rural areas. She also spearheaded work targeting juvenile prison reforms, HIV aid for youths, as well as environmental and civic action.
In 2004, Halima would go on to represent Niger at a Pan-African Youth Conference in Dakar, Senegal and by the age of 22, Halima was a consultant for UNICEF.
Always continuing to further her own education, Halima received her bachelor’s degree in Economics/International Relations & Africana Studies at Wesley College and later became the first Nigerien to attend Harvard University, where she earned a master’s degree in Public Policy.
Halima is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Developmental Studies at the University of Cambridge. In completing her dissertation, she has remained focused on trying to improve and assist the impoverished regions of Niger with an emphasis on motivation and empowerment to improve circumstances through continued education.
In 2011, Hima was named one of “Africa’s 25 top emerging women leaders under 25 for their commitment to service”. Graciously, Halima often refers back to the notion of illimi, a concept passed on by her great-grandmother which translates to “Knowledge, Humility, Purpose” as her motivation to be a force for change in Niger.
Illustration by Amy Cruz
Halima Hima’s women’s rights work emulates illimi. She instills those values by empowering other women in her country to educate themselves and get out of the cycle of marrying young. This piece is inspired by her impact as well as the Saharan Rock Art, engravings in Niger that have lasted for over 8,000 years.
1,267,000 km2 (21st)
Unitary semi-presidential republic