Mogadishu (SONNA)-Several Somali legislators, government officials, youth participants, and aspiring Parliamentarians on Monday joined Women’s groups and Human Rights activists to discuss ways to increase the participation of women in politics and securing the 30 percent women's quota in Somalia's upcoming national elections.
Organized by the Political Affairs Unit of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the forum in Mogadishu discussed the barriers women face in political participation and how to overcome them, and the proposed laws on women's rights that are before the House of the People of the Federal Government of Somalia.
Poor networking among women politicians, lack of financial support, exploitation, deep rooted cultural practices, poor organization and lack of lobbying efforts by women leaders, were identified as some of the issues affecting women participation in politics across the country.
Amina Mohammed, a Member of the House of the People of the Federal Parliament of Somalia, who was a panelist at the conference, urged female leaders to form a formidable coalition to combat the many challenges facing them.
Amina, a Parliamentarian, who was born and raised in Mogadishu, told female aspirants and advocates not to lose hope, but dedicate their efforts to support women to actively participate in politics and governance.
“The challenges facing women interested in politics and governance in Somalia are many; key among them are cultural challenges, and they must end. We can end the discrimination of women in politics by ensuring that we perform better than anyone else when we are elected to office. Doing this will show all of society that women can be great representatives. We need more female role models for those interested in politics to look up to. We also need to keep supporting one another” Ms Amina said.
Muna Hassan Mohamed, a Political Officer at AMISOM, underlined the importance of conducting such forum to empower women in politics and promised that AMISOM will continue to support Somali, particularly women, on the country’s return to peace and security.
“The Africa Union Mission in Somalia, (AMISOM) is committed to ensuring that the 30 percent quota for women is achieved. Since 2016, AMISOM has been lobbying for increased women's representation in Parliament at both the Federal and State governments. The Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, has had meetings with the various leaders both at the federal government and federal member state level, persuading them to act on their promises on gender equality,” she said.
Hafsa Elmi, a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister said some of the reforms needed to enable more women participation include change of cultural attitudes and practices that are harmful to girls and women, and inhibit their professional development.
“As one of the people working in an important office, I would like to see more women included in the discourse on national matters. Women in our country do matter, and this is a reality we all have to appreciate” said Ms Hafsa.
At the end of the meeting, the participants resolved to support female candidates at all levels in the upcoming polls and beyond the 2020/2021electoral process as a way of changing Somalia’s political landscape.