The Gender Committee of the Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT), on Sunday engaged dozens of women candidates for the Lower House of Parliament to explore ways of ensuring that the women’s 30 percent quota is met in order to improve the overall representation of women in the ongoing elections.
In attendance at this engagement were various officials, including Col. Kennedy Okoro, Ms. Titi Pitso and Mr. Ahmed Issack Hassan, members of the African Union Electoral Assistance Mission to Somalia and Nasra Ahmed, the chairperson of the Council of Women Candidates.
FEIT’s Head of Gender Committee, Fatuma Mohammed Abdullahi, said given that a significant number of women had been elected to the Senate, there is optimism that more women will be elected to the Lower House of Parliament.
“We are confident that just like the Senate, we will have more women elected to the Lower House of Parliament. In 2016, the Upper House of Parliament had 13 women Senators. This year so far, we have 14 women Senators elected. This is encouraging” said Fatuma.
FEIT’s Gender Committee works to ensure that women candidates are empowered, educated, trained on the electoral processes and their rights, as well as ensuring that they have access to media platforms to engage the public on their agenda.
The Secretary of the Council of Women Candidates, Aisha Barihood, said it was important to remove the barriers that prevent women from political participation so that the country can establish a truly representative democracy.
Obtaining certificates of good conduct from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), lack of financial support, security concerns, deep rooted cultural practices, poor organization and lack of lobbying support, were identified as some of the obstacles facing women candidates.
“Even in the face of various barriers, Somali women are ready to vie for political office in all constituencies. We are confident that with the support we have received from various local and international partners and the dedication shown by the candidates, the 30 percent quota for women in the House of the People will be realized,” said Aisha Barihood.
Muna Dirshe, an activist and a candidate for the upcoming lower house polls said if more women were elected to parliament, issues such as protecting women’s rights and an expanded role in decision-making will be brought to national attention.
“My plea to all the stakeholders is that they must support women candidates if the objective of progressive and inclusive politics is to be achieved,” said Dirshe.