Promoting governance skills for the women in Benadir, Mogadishu, Somalia

September 13, 2023

Despite conflict and instability, Somalia has made progress in governance, democracy, and state-building. However, amidst these advancements, one critical aspect has lagged- the inclusion of women in these critical processes. Women in southern Somalia’s Benadir are progressing in various fields, transforming the socio-economic landscape. However, when it comes to formal governance, women continue to be underrepresented.

The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS), as part of the Talo Wadaag II programme, organised two workshops to better understand the challenges faced by resilient women in Benadir when it comes to participating in  governance, state-building, and conflict prevention. Talo Wadaag is a joint effort by Interpeace and its partners Рthe Academy for Peace and Development (APD), the Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC), and the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS) Рin Somaliland, Puntland, and Benadir. Its aim is to promote citizen-centered peacebuilding and democracy by engaging communities in these critical areas.

The first workshop, held on 23 February 2023 employed a range of participatory approaches. These included drawing exercises that allowed women to depict their perceptions and experiences of good governance, interactive group discussions to facilitate the exchange of ideas, presentations, individual activities, and informal focus group discussions. These methods effectively engaged the participants, providing them with a platform to voice their thoughts and share their experiences, particularly regarding their vision of good governance. The workshop enabled HIPS to gather valuable insights into how women perceive their roles within Somalia’s governance and state-building processes.

Dr. Yusuf Sheikh Omar, Director of the Talo Wadaag 2 Project at the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies, emphasised the importance of these insights. ‚ÄúUnderstanding women‚Äôs views on governance is vital as preparations for elections in Benadir are underway. Recognising the significance of women‚Äôs involvement is key for improving Benadir‚Äôs governance and building an inclusive and enduring future for Somalia,‚ÄĚ he stated.

Addressing the challenges that limit women’s political participation and incorporating their perspectives is essential to strengthening the social contract. This ensures that the state-building process contributes to a constructive, peaceful, and prosperous society.

The second workshop, held on 13 June 2023, continued HIPS’s efforts to empower the women of Benadir. It equipped them with conflict prevention skills, strategies for conflict resolution, and the means to promote a culture of peace. Discussions also revolved around the role of media activism in driving societal change.

A female participant appreciated the effort put into teaching skills to create social change. ‚ÄúI leave this training feeling empowered as they tailored it to our needs and interests. I feel empowered to become an agent of change for my community,‚ÄĚ she stated.

The workshop marked a momentous stride in empowering the women of Benadir in Mogadishu. It equipped them with essential knowledge and skills, fostering their active engagement in public affairs and promoting constructive societal transformation. The Talo Wadaag programme has initiated discussions with relevant stakeholders, such as the Benadir Regional Administration (BRA) and the Ministry of Interior, Federal Affairs, and Reconciliation (MoIFAR). These discussions have identified entry points to support plans for upcoming democratic processes, such as the Benadir elections.

‚ÄúThe skills imparted to the women and the recommendations they provided will be utilised by the Talo Wadaag programme to enhance overall advocacy for increased women‚Äôs political participation and representation, especially in Benadir. HIPS and its partner, Interpeace, have already identified entry points to engage relevant stakeholders and contribute to the policy thinking that will govern political processes, such as the vision for elections in Benadir,‚ÄĚ affirmed Dr. Yusuf.

‚ÄúThe workshops held by Talo-Wadaag Consortium, led by HIPS exemplify the commitment to contribute towards the creation of an inclusive and equitable governance landscape in Somalia. These initiatives empower women, recognising their vital role in shaping the future of Benadir and the country,‚ÄĚ emphasised Interpeace‚Äôs Somali Programme Officer, Jesse Kariuki, on the importance of promoting governance skills for women.

TALO-WADAAG 2: Participatory Research Focused on Governance and State building processes in Somalia

Empowering Women in Benadir: The Power of Active Citizenship ‚Äď Talo-Wadaag 2