Act for Somalia statement on International Women’s Day
Act For Somalia celebrates International Women’s Day with the world. Although we prefer equality to have been a prerequisite in all international societal actions and practices we understand and know it is not. Hence, why this day is important for raising awareness, sharing experiences and celebrating the successes of a valuable half of the world population.
While celebrating on the one hand, the world must recognise there is still a long way to go for gender equality across the world. Gender inequality manifests itself in many forms across both developed and developing societies. Each inequality and injustice must be addressed to make the world a more progressive and prosperous place for us all.
Somali women are the backbones of their society. Before and after the disastrous civil war, they are the engine of economic growth while sustaining their families and homes. They are professionals, mothers, sisters, educators and entrepreneurs. Somali society has always valued women for their valuable contribution to the collective progress of the nation. Although some challenges exists, the new Somalia is one that strives to put women at the centre of the rebuilding of the Somali State.
Today, as Somali prepares for elections in 2016, there is a minimum quota of 30% that is reserved for women parliamentarians. While this is less than the 50/50 split most women organisations are campaigning for it is a much better target than most in the region and even within the developed world. However, whatever the percentage, it is for Somali women to fight for their rights and the opportunity to influence the direction of their country just like every other group including the youth. To do this, Somali women need to organise effectively, unite behind common causes, create policy coalitions and advocate for their interests as a unified force.
Somali women are present across Somali society and as they are now outnumbering men in education, this trend will only improve with time. However, the idea that one should be a MP because she is a woman alone is not useful. Women MP’s must do exactly what other potential Parliamentary hopefuls have to do: convince their constituents of their proposed policies.
The challenge of Women empowerment and inclusion in societal processes is not just for women either. All men are born of women and they must never see their roles only as mothers and carers. Men must advocate and fully support the inclusion of women in all aspects of Somalia’s journey towards peace, progress and prosperity. If we can trust women to bring up the next generation of societal leaders, we can certainly trust them to lead society.
Somali women also understand Somali society values fairness. In the past positions for women in government, business and wider society have been taken by influential connected women who have rarely been committed to empowering their sisters. Within the women movement the voices of poorer women and those whose voices are overshadowed by more connected women must be heard. There must be fairness and common purpose within the women’s movements and narratives.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day and acknowledge the valuable contribution made by women to the world, we must agree that more needs to be done to achieve equality. On the part of Governments, policy makers, citizens and all other stakeholders including women’s groups, it is time to turn rhetoric into reality. This is the only way we can achieve a just and progressive world for all its citizens.
Act For Somalia