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Somali Women: Peace - a necessity for life

December 21, 2011
Est. Reading: 2 minutes
Photo credit: PDRC

“When men can hear women’s voices and not feel threatened because they understand women are not trying to replace them, only stand next to them… maybe they will understand how much they lost by not taking their hands and walking forwards together,”
- Marian Hassan.

The women of the Somali Region have been the victims of conflict. Many are frustrated by the status quo.

Much of the burden of conflict is carried by women and children. But many feel empowered and energized by the recent recognition that lasting peace requires active and strong female participation.

To advance the role of women in peacebuilding in the Somali Region, the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia recently held a Somali Women’s Peace conference in Djibouti. Interpeace local partner in Puntland, the Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC) sent Marian Hassan to attend.

Marian¸ Research Assistant on Gender Perspectives at PDRC, was one of 35 extraordinary Somali women, practitioners, scholars and policy makers who attended the conference.

A round table discussion on ‘an African solution’ to the current conflict in the Somali Region was the topic of the discussions.The participants represented civil society, diaspora, members of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), NGOs, UN-Women, UNPOS, academia and youth.

“Women and youth should be included in the decision making. Their perspectives and experiences should be taken into account. Peace is not merely a political desire but a necessity of life and it can’t be restored only by men,” explains Marian.

During the lively and engaging debates, women highlighted obstacles to peace, security problems and the functioning of government. They identified areas of strengths and weaknesses in the current government policy on peace and security and provided critical input into the into the drafting of the Somali security strategy. They also came up with suggestions to define quotas for women in every decision-making assembly.

“Women are at the forefront of peace and reconciliation. When the rhythm for peacebuilding slows down, they rally and mobilize. They are always beside men, never behind them, but men ignore their advice and inspirations and also do not include them in the decision making. Women’s perspective and experience should matter in creating an everlasting peace and stability in the country,”concluded Marian.

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