“The women could have been given 50% quota since we are the majority of the population, but that did not happen."
PICTURE: Some of Somali women who participated in the workshop
Representatives from the Federal Government of Somalia, civil society organizations, political players and other interest groups, rooted for legislation that safeguards the 30-percent quota for women, at a workshop held with support from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The forum on women's political participation in the upcoming legislative elections in Somalia was held in the capital Mogadishu on Thursday.
"The women could have been given 50% quota since we are the majority of the population, but that did not happen. Now, even the 30% is still not guaranteed. We need women MPs elected in these 2016 elections, without being subjected to hardship, such as being tied to clan elders. The government should facilitate this, since this is a legal requirement," an advocate for women's rights and founder of Ifrah Foundation Ms. Ifrah Ahmed stated.
AMISOM Political Affairs Officer Dr. Walters Samah commended the federal government for the establishment of a legal framework to support affirmative action for women, but emphasized commitment to achieve set goals.
"Somali women need to be empowered to participate in the politics and decision-making process of the country. In this regard, real progress has been made towards establishing the legal framework as evidenced in provisional Constitution and the recently adopted national gender policy. There is also no gainsaying that the gender quota is an effective tool in addressing women's exclusion and ensuring their active presence in public affairs. However, ensuring an effective women's political participation in Somalia will require a strong commitment and the sustained efforts of both the federal and state governments," Dr. Walters said.
Marian Aden, an official from the Office of the Prime Minister stressed the importance of forging a common front to tackle women's concerns. She said, "What shall we present to the leaders of the country? What have we agreed upon, what can we give them as our decision; that's the real objective of this meeting. We are here to get an answer on how to get the 30% quota."
Another participant, Nadifa Osman, who is a member of the federal Parliament, noted that the current Constitution may require an amendment to legislate the provision for the 30-percent quota.
"The Constitution talks about the history of women and their representation, but it is not clear on how the attainment of the quota will be done. We have requested for the addition of another clause that stipulates clearly that women will have a minimum of 30% representation, as mandatory and as a right. When we get 30%, it doesn't mean only parliamentary representation; we need that from the three branches of the government, the federal, legislative bodies and the judiciary. Women should have representation in all arms of government," Ms. Nadifa Osma said.
At the end of the day-long meeting, participants resolved to engage members of the federal government, regional leaders, clan elders and other stakeholders to push further, the women's agenda. They committed to support female candidates at all levels in the upcoming polls and beyond the 2016 electoral process.
Women constitute 14 percent of the current national Parliament, holding 39 out of the 275 seats. The Federal Government of Somalia has in its provisional Constitution, made a commitment to increase women's representation in the legislative assembly, by preserving 30-percent of the seats to women.