Somalia is still grappling with high rates of gender-based violence, child marriages and high levels of female genital mutilation
Somalia MPs; Farhiyo Abdullah, Shukiri Bashir Hajir and Anab Ahmed and others during the leadership training at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel Entebbe on September 19. Photo by Ramadhan Abbey
A group of 30 Somali legislators are undergoing training in leadership and gender-equality meant to equip them with new skills and knowledge, needed in advancing gender-equality and women empowerment in Somalia.
Somalia’s senate has 54 members, while the House of People has 275 members. Out of 275 members, 26% are women, compared to 14% women representation that they had in 2012.
Speaking during the training taking place at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) cross-cutting unit manager, Catriona Byrne, said Somalia is still grappling with gender challenges including high rates of gender-based violence, child marriages and high levels of female genital mutilation (FGM) at 98%.
She said with such challenges, it is difficult for any country to develop, especially when the needs of women are neglected.
“To address gender issues in Somalia, strong leadership is crucial. This training is meant to empower MPs with leadership skills to be able to address and support the needs of women and girls,” she said
“The fastest way to achieve development is through promotion of rights of all people and this can be achieved through leadership for results,” she added
The training under the theme “Transformation leadership training for federal and state members of parliament” is organised by UNDP.
South-West state MP, Shukiri Bashir Jajir, said there is a lot of domestic violence against women and HIV/AIDS and as leaders, they are looking for collective ways of addressing such problems.
Dr Farah Abdi Hassan, House of People MP, said it is action-oriented leadership that will transform Somalia from a past-conflicted country to a modern governance state.
He said there are many negative perceptions against women in Somalia, adding that it is not easy to change peoples’ perceptions about some cultures they have held for a long time.
“After this training, we plan to educate our people about the purpose of women empowerment in the attainment of social, economic and political progress and development in our country,” said Hassan
El Hadj M. Moustapha Gueye, the mayor of Sokone town in Senegal, who is also a transformational leadership coach and one of the trainers, said the training is also organised to help participants to discuss and invent ways to change attitudes and assumptions that perpetrate denial and silence in relation to gender based violence.