A two-day forum in Somalia that brought together women, the youth, academics, women’s rights activists and political experts concluded deliberations on Wednesday with a call for 30 percent women quota in political representation to be guaranteed.
Campaigners for greater representation of women in Somalia’s Parliament have stepped up efforts during this election period, emphasising that the quota of seats for women was vital to the development of a strong, inclusive and stable nation since women constitute the majority of the country’s population.
“In the current election period, we are lobbying that women should have seats reserved for them if we are to achieve the 30 percent quota. We want to ensure that for every three Parliamentary seats, one is reserved for a woman. We hope to be able to take this message across all Federal Member States (FMS),” said the Federal Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, Hanifa Mohamed Ibrahim at the official opening of the forum.
Organized with the support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the two-day event drew about ninety participants including members of the Committee of Goodwill Women Ambassadors (GWA), representatives of the Somalia Women Development Centre (SWDC) and from the civil society taskforce created to ensure the 30 percent women quota is achieved.
AMISOM Political Affairs Officer, Muna Hassan, said it was important for the Somalia to have an open dialogue on the topic of representation of women in politics.
“For this forum, we wanted women and various stakeholders to converge and talk to each other since elections are already underway. Our goal is to make sure that women get their constitutionally mandated political representation so that they are part of decision making in this country,” Muna said.
The forum also provided a platform for intergenerational learning and exchange of views, all aimed at urging women to take active role in the ongoing elections and peace-making initiatives in Somalia.
Civil society activist, Asad Abukar Ali, urged men to contribute in supporting women to achieve the 30 percent quota, because women in Somalia have already proved their capability and capacity to contribute to peace initiatives and nation-building.
“So far, we have seen some women getting elected into the Senate, which is a good thing. We urge the remaining Federal Member States to ensure that as many women as possible get elected into Parliament,” Ali said.
The Chairperson of the Committee of Goodwill Ambassadors, Batuulo Sheikh Ahmed Gabale, urged all people of goodwill to mobilize the necessary support to enable women to fully participate in the ongoing elections.
“Every eligible Somalia citizen has a right to participate in politics. I hope that in the ongoing Elections, women will be enabled to duly exercise their political rights by getting more seats. To the women participating in this election I say, go for it and nothing should stop you from achieving your political goal”, she said.
AMISOM has been advocating for the rights of girls and women in Somalia, and has helped the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to develop policies and frameworks to ensure gender inclusion and political participation for women.