Women empowerment means guiding principles to strengthen women’s participation in social, political, and economic activities while delivering health quality services.
Moreover, it is vital for the achievement of sustainable development. Inclusive participation alliance of both men and women is essential in reproductive life, comprising shared household responsibilities. Around the world, women face broader discrimination, challenges with accessing proper healthcare, and other obstacles in navigating most societies’ socio-political and economic spheres.
In most regions in Somalia, women acquire less formal education than men. However, the few who are privileged to get valuable education have managed to overcome various challenges and become competitive players in a different field. While many activities are geared toward supporting women in Somalia, there is a lot of work that needs to be done.
Indeed, in some efforts, such as during the second Growe conference where political leaders agreed to ensure that women get a reserved quota of 30% representation in both houses of the federal parliament of Somalia. But despite this, the country ranks among the last five countries in the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Human Development Index and Gender Equality Index. Statistics indicate that 1 in 16 women die in childbirth, and 10 percent die before the end of their reproductive years.
That is why in the wake of developing a new Federal Constitution, several actors, such as civil society organizations, including women’s associations, are advocating empowered Somali women not only be engaged in the constitutional review process but ensure the final draft will have provided guarantees concerning attaining a gender-equality in most if not all-important spheres of the society.
These guarantees must be safeguarded by the constitution and implementing agencies. Such efforts will not be foreign to Somalia since even the founding principles of the federal constitution indicated that ‘Women must be included, in a practical way, in all national public institutions, especially, all elected and appointed positions entire the three arms of government and in independent national commissions.
There continue to be severe obstacles to the promotion of the 30 % quota of women in decision-making. That partly explains the country’s more significant problem, and it is high time to call for further transformation of social norms and attitudes.
Their exclusion from decision-making reinforces Somali women’s social, political, and economic marginalization. Any advocate of women’s equality, not just in Somalia but across the continent and the world, must contend that human beings are living in different times that call for other measures that will allow every member of the society to stand up, take responsibility, and be counted.
It cannot achieve that if women, who comprise a large segment of society, are marginalized. Even though the current participation of women in politics in Somalia is low compared to the federal government or neighboring countries like Uganda and Kenya, few women are taking bold steps to join politics and compete for leadership opportunities.
Thus, promoting women’s political leadership capacity and skills is essential to the long-term development of governance capacity. But beyond political leadership, where women require to access, keep, and utilize power, there are many other areas of significant importance where women’s voices need to be heard, and their contribution needs to be felt.
It cannot ignore women’s role in economic growth, nor are their efforts in building social cohesion, developing agriculture, advancement in medicine, engineering, and other social and natural sciences. Therefore, women empowerment in Somalia must go beyond allocating specific political seats and penetrate schools and universities, research centers, farms, laboratories, companies, and other sectors.
All the above will not be possible if the society does not acknowledge that women are unrepresented in social, economic, and political arenas due to weaknesses associated with some of the social-cultural beliefs or complete lack of non-gender sensitive policies, lack of financial capacity, cultural limitations and domestic burdens and clan-based representation system.
Widespread misinformation among the community, women, and the girl-child, is a significant challenge for any meaningful development in Somalia.
Incredible talent and leadership potential sometimes go unnoticed because of the many burdens that affect women from acceding to leadership positions. Some of these burdens include the lack of an open, transparent, and inclusive political process, economic constraints, lack or little education, political instability, clan politics, insufficient mentorship, and capacity building, and a failed affirmative action.
Dr. Mohamed BINCOF is a Ph.D. in Political Science and Public Administration, a university lecturer, and a Specialist in governance, strategy, and politics. you can reach him at email: email@example.com