A two-day Women’s Political Participation Forum, which brought together a cross-section of women politicians, academics, women candidates, and human rights activists, concluded on Wednesday in Mogadishu, with calls for the country to embrace inclusive politics in order to allow women play a meaningful role in nation-building. 

Key among the discussions at the conference were the strategies Somali women can employ to ensure the realization of the proposed 30 percent women’s quota in the ongoing 2021 national elections. The two-day conference was held with the support of the Political Affairs Unit of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister, and Women Good Will Ambassadors.

Participants included women candidates in the ongoing elections and members of the Committee of Goodwill Ambassadors (GWA), who are the champions of the initiative to improve participation and representation of Somali women in decision making and in politics.

“The success of women senators elected to the Upper House of Parliament has set the bar high, and boosted the aspirations of women candidates. Many are hopeful that the 30 percent quota for women will be achieved,” said the Minister of Women and Human Rights in the Federal Government of Somalia, Hanifa Ibrahim, in her remarks at the opening day of the conference.

The target of securing at least 30 percent women’s representation is premised on the realization that access for women to decision-making is essential to reduce insecurity, strengthen rule of law, improve governance, and accelerate economic and social development for the country.

“We know there are challenges that women in politics face, including not having an opportunity to be at the decision-making table. However, we will put all of our efforts together so that we will have more women elected this year to the two houses of parliament,” said Gender and Elections advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister, Raho Mohamud.

AMISOM’s Political Officer, Muna Hassan Mohamed, underlined the importance of continuing with efforts aimed at enabling women to fully participate in Somalia’s political processes.

“This is only part of the several ways that AMISOM is providing support to the government of Somalia to empower and promote women’s participation in politics.  To achieve the required representation in parliament, Somali women need to be encouraged to participate in the election process which, so far, has been transparent, free and fair,” said Muna.

While contributing to the discussions, the chairperson of the Women’s Quota Committee recently appointed by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, Batula Sheikh Ahmed Gaballe, said, “taking no notice of the guidelines on women representation amounts to violating the political agreements that exist. All women leaders should come together and defend their right to political participation.”

Other topics participants discussed included the political context of the elections, the various agreements between Somalia and partners regarding the elections, the role of the Goodwill Ambassadors, and also held interactive panel discussions on Somalia’s Provisional Constitution and Women Political Representation, among others.

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