AU holds discussions on women’s political participation in Somalia
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), in collaboration with the Southwest State of Somalia, has held a forum to devise ways to promote women’s representation and participation in politics in Somalia. A two-day forum held in Baidoa, organised by the AMISOM Political Unit, attracted 45 participants, including Women Goodwill Ambassadors, women candidates, youth, men, academics, women’s rights activists, and political experts. The participants discussed how women in Somalia could increase their representation and participation in the ongoing elections. At the opening, AMISOM Political Affairs Officer, Sayid Ali Hersi, stated that the objective of the forum is to create a platform to advocate for more women representation in the upper and lower house in the ongoing 2021 election, and how best to advocate for the 30% women quota. The AMISOM Gender Officer in Baidoa, Inspector of Police (IP) Ngonzi Trilla, noted the need to challenge existing social norms which limit women’s participation in politics. “The more we organise such workshops, the more the numbers of women will increase in politics. Our target is to increase the thirty percent women’s representation in politics,” noted IP Ngonzi. Ngonzi also called for more sensitisation to enable women to overcome fear, which she said is responsible for the low level of women representation and participation in politics. “We should continue sensitising the women. Women lag behind and fear to come up. But the more sensitisation we conduct, it will encourage women to come out and participate,” added Ngonzi. About 21 years ago, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security on 31 October 2000. The resolution recognises the role of women in peace and security and mandated UN member states to ensure women participation in decision-making processes. Somalia’s international partners advocate for the inclusion of women in politics and continue to urge leaders to safeguard the women’s 30 percent quota in the 2021 elections. During the forum, participants discussed the importance of strengthening structural and institutional reforms for women’s political inclusion and ways to achieve women’s political participation and remove barriers to women’s political inclusion. The South West State’s President’s Adviser on Women Affairs, Amina Mohamed Mursal, hailed AMISOM for its role in organising the forum. The Deputy Chairperson of the Southwest State Electoral Commission, Nurdin Ibrahim, said the forum offered a platform for women to share views on their political participation. “As the region’s electoral committee, we expect to raise awareness, motivate, and empower women to take full advantage of their political quota,” noted Ibrahim. A female participant and woman candidate, Shukri Bashir, noted that today, women in Somalia participate in politics and contribute to rebuilding the nation. “Women are campaigning in the election. A few years ago, it was not easy to imagine. However, today, we are heading in the right direction. It is becoming increasingly easy for women to campaign in politics,” noted Ms Bashir.