Somali women: A force for peace
August 29, 2012
“Women can prevent men from participating in conflicts and turn them into peace makers instead of clan fighters,” explains Asha Gelle Dirie, the Minister for Women in Puntland in the film that has just been released by our local teams in the Somali Region. Highlighting the key role of women in peacebuilding, this sentence sums up the enormous potential women have in building lasting peace.
Emphasizing the determination of women across the Somali Region to actively participate in decision-making processes and conflict resolution, Interpeace’s three partner organizations in the region have teamed up to produce a short film that captures the voices and achievements of Somali women.
Engaging women is at the heart of peacebuilding
The Academy for Peace and Development (APD) in Somaliland, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) in South-Central Somalia and the Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC) all specifically target women in their peacebuilding programmes.
More than 20 years of violent conflict have affected Somali women
Upon the collapse of the national government twenty years ago, the life and role of women across the Somali Region changed dramatically.
In many instances, women lost their husbands and sons and had to face the situation of being the sole breadwinner of the family. Women had to adapt to new challenges and responsibilities. But Somali women all over the region stood up to the challenge.
Despite the traditionally patriarchal structures and clan-based societies, women all over the Somali region have been able to positively impact social reconciliation.
Somali women – a force for peace
The latest film from the Somali region clearly shows Somali women as extraordinary peacebuilders and that for them it is “peace at any cost.”
Women are the backbone of society
In the movie, Somaliland’s First Lady, H. E. Amina-Waris Sh. Mohamed Jirde shares: “Women are the backbone of our economy and they are the backbone of all our movements and achievements.”
She goes on to explain: “Somaliland women have always been groundbreaking in our community. I’m not just talking about the enormous domestic responsibility they bear. I’m also talking about women’s roles in recent election campaigns and in the struggles against their oppressors. Women have been very active in many respects.”
Watch the film: Somali Women: a force for Peace
A peace committee
In the town of Galkayo that is divided into two parts women have formed a peace committee that mediates between the sides. Consisting of women from both sides, the track record of the committee is impressive. Not only mediating between the opposing parties when trade routes are blocked or life in the town comes to a halt due to the conflict, the committee also equips women with the skills needed for reconciliatory work.
The committee also organizes regular trainings to pass on the knowledge and skills that was passed on to them in multiple workshops by PDRC to improve women’s capacities. The curriculum of these trainings includes conflict resolution, prevention work, analytical and leadership skills.
Education is key
A Somali saying highlights the importance of investing in the future of women: “He who educates a girl has enlightened a nation.” Thanks to improved education, women across the Somali Region are making immense progress. But a lot of girls still have to fight for their right to go to school.
Sainab H. Ayan of the We are Women Activist (WAWA) network explains: “Once educated a girl becomes like a farm, yielding fruits and flowers forever.”