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Puntland commemorates International Women’s Day

April 9, 2014
Est. Reading: 2 minutes
Photo credit: PDRC

In Puntland, women are often marginalized and underrepresented in governmental decision-making processes. To mark International Women's Day on 8 March, our local partner, the Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC), facilitated discussions on how to address this critical issue. Over the course of three days, Somali women and other stakeholders participated in various events to share and develop ideas on increasing women's participation.

The three day event kicked off with focus group discussions on the issue of women's representation in government. Groups were led by female participants in government as well as men with experience in and commitment to gender mainstreaming. Together, the nine group leaders sought to inspire the development of approaches to foster female leadership which the women could develop into a short term plan of action.

Over 100 women participate in national event

On the second day, over one hundred women participated in an event entitled the "National Symposium on Women's Political Participation", serving as a stepping-stone for the successful commemoration of 8 March. Participants exchanged views and decided on focus areas for a plan towards women's empowerment. These were: allocating a specific quota for women in politics, engagement around the election law and electoral commission, involvement in the democratization process, approval of a Puntland gender policy, establishment of a women's advocacy champion to foster unity among women, and awareness of the role of women in Islam.

On International Women's Day, government officials, international agencies, and representatives from all sectors of the community gathered to honor and celebrate the work that the participants had done in the days leading up to March 8. During the event, the communique of the symposium was announced and the Puntland Minister for Women's Affairs, Anisa Haji Mumim, awarded certificates to 20 dignified women, acknowledging their struggle to uphold women's rights. The Puntland President, Abdiweli Mohamed Gas, also took the occasion to announce the approval of a law to combat female genital mutilation.

Mobilizing the voice of Somali women

In the parliament of Puntland only 3% of members are women and only 10.6% of positions in the current administration are held by women. This low level of representation has undermined women's ability to mobilize and contribute to the decisions being made in Puntland.

However, the International Women's Day event was attended by the two female ministers in the Puntland cabinet, the Minister for Women's Affairs and the Minister for Constitution, Federalism and Democracy. Both showed strong support for the communique that came out of the event, and a commitment to putting its points into practice. Among other things the communique seeks a 30% quota for women's representation in government, approval of a Puntland Gender Policy and various measures to support women's empowerment and participation in the decision-making sphere.

A history of gender mainstreaming

Interpeace and its local partner PDRC have been working in Puntland for over 15 years and have focused on the inclusion of women throughout the process. PDRC has facilitated the training of Somali women as journalists to increase the capacity of females to participate in this traditionally male-dominated career field. It has also harnessed the perspectives of women on security issues in the development of a draft security policy for Puntland.