Somalia’s federal states mark 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence
The Federal Member States of Jubaland and South West State in Somalia joined the rest of the world on Thursday in commemorating the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), with a pledge to eliminate violence against women and children in Somalia. Organised by the Protection, Human Rights and Gender Unit of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in conjunction with the respective line ministries of women and family affairs, the events held in Kismayo and Baidoa, the administrative capitals of Jubaland and South West State, were attended by about 220 people. The events drew experts and representatives of civil society organisations working on issues affecting women and children and members of the public, who engaged in vigorous discussions, as part of the global campaign aimed at raising awareness about some of the most rampant human rights violations. Kismayo Speaking in Kismayo, Jubaland Minister of Women and Family Affairs, Adar Ismail Jurati, reiterated the ministry’s commitment to enhancing the protection of women and children. “As a ministry, we are always committed to protecting human rights. Our responsibility is to protect the vulnerable people and to stand by victims including women, children, and people living with disabilities who face this crisis in their lives,” the Minister said. At the same event, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP), Grace Nutsugah, the AMISOM Police Gender Officer in Jubaland, stressed the significance of the campaign in efforts aimed at eliminating violence against women. “We have come here to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism; this is an annual strategy to eliminate gender-based violence against women,” CIP Nutsugah explained. “This event is significant for Somali women, because we always hear news of girls being raped, thrown from a building, and girls who throw their infants due to shame as the child was born out of wedlock, thereby committing another sin. So we need a lot of awareness and encouragement as women. We need to support each other, we also need to raise awareness of domestic violence within families both about physical and mental abuse,” said Rodo Yusuf Rabi, one of the participants. The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence is an annual campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. Baidoa In Baidoa, the participants, who included members of women’s groups, traditional elders and members of civil society, used the event to amplify their voices for the elimination of violence against women and children. “We discussed how we can come together as men and women and eradicate gender-based violence against women,” said Shamsa Abdi, one of the participants. Farhia Ahmed Ali, the South West Police Gender Officer, underlined the need for concerted efforts in ending violence against women. “Women are subjected to many forms of abuse such as rape, torture, divorce, and early marriages. This is where we have to come together to end all forms of violence against women, and also to encourage men to join the fight against gender-based violence,” explained Farhia. Moalim Ibrahim Moalim, one of the participants hailed AMISOM for organising the event, noting that it is timely. “It is something we need as a society to raise awareness of challenges girls face; we welcome such an encouraging event, and we are happy about it,” Moalim concluded.