Current Status: Women's Participation in Politics

 

Although Somaliland has made a lot of progress in the last two decades it is still at a difficult re-construction and recovery stage. The country has attained commendable achievements in reconciliation and relative security; re-establishment of the rule of law; disarmament and demining; economic recovery and infrastructural development among others. That notwithstanding, there are still challenges especially relating to women's rights, such as their inability to participate in national decision-making processes, have access to and attain justice and protection from all forms of sexual and gender based violence and high incidences of poverty among others.

In an attempt to deal with the various challenges that women continue to experience, Nagaad Network's with the support from it is respective partners provided training for women candidates and awareness-raising for voters with the aim of increasing the number of women in the recent local council elections and for the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2017.

"1. The Republic of Somaliland shall observe all treaties and agreements entered into by the former state of Somalia with foreign countries or corporations provided that these don’t conflict with the interests and concerns of the Republic of Somaliland. 
 
2. The Republic of Somaliland recognizes and shall act in conformity with the United Nations Charter and with international law, and shall respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
 
This declaration of acceptance of all international laws is partly a strategy to gain more support for Somaliland's vision of international recognition. Therefore, Somaliland has legal and moral obligations to ensure the full implementation of Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals, Beijing on 30% quotas and CEDAW on gender equality which calls for women empowerment and increased participation of women in politics. 
 
The government of Somaliland has also national commitments and obligations directly related to the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights and empowerment such as Article 8 (Equality of Citizens) and Article 36 (The Rights of Women) of the National Constitution. The Somaliland government has also developed and approved a National Gender Policy in 2009.  The policy document states that; “The aim of the policy is to provide a platform for the collective participation and contribution of all men and women in Somaliland at all levels in order to achieve socio-economic development and ultimately social security. The policy is developed to guide and direct planning, resource allocation and implementation of development programmes within a gender perspective”. The National Gender Policy thematic prioritises include women’ role in democratic Governance, Political Participation and Decision- Making.
 
It is worth noting that despite Somaliland's acceptance of its international obligations and a degree of positive change, none of the main international instruments on women's rights have been fully domesticated. This is compounded by the fact that cultural and traditional practices subject women to male dominance which also hinder women's progress in achieving gender equality in politics and other aspects of their lives. Women face political, social, economic and legal discrimination. These translate into barriers such as violence, intimidation, negative attitudes, stereotyping by society and lack of support from the electorate, political parties, families and other women. Women still have a lower status than men and it is taboo for women to become clan leaders or Chiefs. Although a few women have achieved some recognition, these gains have not been shared equally by women and have therefore not made enough impact. Today, the high rate of gender inequality in terms of poverty, rape, domestic violence and increased maternal mortality, continues to impair the lives of many women. The recent Millennium Development Goals report on Maternal Mortality highlights the stark realities and disadvantages faced by women in Somaliland.
 
In an attempt to deal with the various challenges that women continue to experience, Nagaad Network's with the support from it is respective partners provided training for women candidates and  awareness-raising for  voters with the aim of increasing the number of women in the recent local council elections and for the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2017. 
 
It has been argued that a higher number of women in parliament and local council will contribute to a stronger focus on women’s issues. International conferences emphasize the fact that women have the right to participate in decision making including at political level, for reasons of equality, democracy and legitimacy. ‘The empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of women’s social, economic and political status is essential for the achievement of both transparent and accountable government and administration, and sustainable development in all areas of life’. (UN Women’s Conference Beijing, 1995).
 
Nagaad established a Quota Task Force which is a group of elite people from different professional background to advocate for women’s quota.  The Quota Task Force met with Somaliland President, H.E. Ahmed Siilaanyo, the two speakers of the two houses of the parliament, the MPs, the Cabinet and the political parties. Nagaad also supported the three political parties on the development and adoption of policies and regulations governing women quota within the political party through the adoption of party’s voluntary quota. Three political parties added their by-laws a 30% quota for women in the upcoming parliamentarian elections.
 
On September 7, 2011, The President of Somaliland released a Presidential decree announcing the formation of a National Consultative Committee to advise him on how women can be mainstreamed within the decision making legislative bodies of the country. In his decree, the President nominated nine persons from the two chambers of the Parliament and Cabinet and authorized them to conduct nationwide consultations with all sectors of the Somaliland society, collate their opinion and recommendations and prepare an advisory position for taking forward a women’s quota system in the national decision-making institutions.
 
After the completion of their assignment the Consultative committee submitted their final report with the findings of the consultation and their recommendations to the President on Jan, 2011. And the President forwarded a draft women’s quota based on the recommendations of the Consultative Committee to the House of Representatives and requested them to take Action on 14Th March, 2012.
 
On 12 July 2012, the President’s draft law on women’s Quota has been brought to the House of Representatives session by the deputy spokesman of House to start debating it and reach a final decision. Unfortunately, the majority of MPs of the Somaliland House of Representatives rejected the draft motion on technical grounds and decided to return it to the advisory subcommittee of the House. 
 
It is widely accepted that on the one hand a few hard line MPs spearheaded the rejection and influenced other House members, and on the other hand the civil society activists were not well organized and did not fully expect the possibility of this outcome.
 
The Somaliland President;  H.E Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud has shown a strong commitment to promoting the participation of Somaliland women in the National Decision-making process through his actions over the last number of years.
 
In his speech at the National Delegates Convention (National Congress) of the ruling Kulmiye Party on 28th April, 2014, the President reiterated his commitment and told the delegates that ; " I would like to remind you (delegates) about an important part of  our (Kulmiye party) promises during the 2010 presidential elections campaign, which was written as follows: Kulmiye Party pledges to ensure that women participate fully, actively and fairly in all national spheres including socially, politically and economically by creating an effective capacity based on knowledge to enable women to take part in government activity”.
 
The President further added that; ‘’ I am requesting the Kulmiye members of the House of Representatives to prepare and bring a motion on the quota to the Floor of the House and to make an effort towards making the Quota motion legally binding.”
 
On March 8th, 2015 the president requested form the parliament to enact women’s quota for the fourth time. 
 
The political will shown by the president is  a  huge opportunity for  the  women’s  rights campaign  in   Somaliland  to     push   for  a   legal  provision    that   will  ensure   that  the    minimum     10%    quota    is  attained. There is also need to learn from the past and come up with innovative and effective strategies to ensure that this is achieved in a timely manner.