Voter Registration

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.
 
 

Voter Registration

 

Overall Objective
To promote active participation of eligible voters on voter registration process, specifically women, through effective awareness raising in Somaliland

Specific Objectives
    To review and assess voter registration education effectiveness through open discussions among the community participants
    To carry out voter registration education campaign in the target areas to improve the knowledge of eligible voter groups on voter registration in Somaliland
    To deliver accurate and consistent voter education massages to the communities in the target areas


Activities implemented
1.1. Carry out literature review on the current available stock of information on the voter education to inform effective awareness raising for inclusive voter registration to take place.
On September 15th to September 25th, 2015, Nagaad hired a consultant to carry out literature review on the current available stock of information on the voter education to inform effective awareness raising for inclusive voter registration to take place. The literature review entailed NEC’s voter education manuals, reports of previous voter education interventions in Somaliland and key informative interviews with selected individuals for further clarifications on areas written documents falls short. This exercise produced summarized report with key findings, lessons learnt, gaps and recommendations. The verdict of this report formed the basis in which the content of all awareness raising exercises are formed.


2.1. Conduct 10 Town hall Meetings on voter registration efficacy and process in Hargeisa (Gacan-Libaax, Maxamuud Haybe), Boorame, Wajaale, Allaybaday, Baki and Gabiley
Nagaad conducted 12 town hall meetings in Gebiley on October 18th, Alay Baday on October 18th, Wajaale on October 19th, Kalabaydh on October 20th, Dila on October 19th, Qol-u-jeed on October 20th, Baki on October 21th, Ruqi on October 22th, Godka on October 23rd,  Geed Balaadh on October 21th, Daba Raqash on October 21th, and Lafta Gorayga on October 23rd. The aim of the town hall meetings was to create a platform in which communities engage a two-way discussion, as to dispel rumors and misinformation, while answering concerns of citizens and community leaders in regards to the voter registration process. 685 Participants from different background of the communities attended the town hall meetings.
Nagaad contributed the two extra town hall meetings to the project to increase the impact of the project by reaching more beneficiaries.


2.2. Public voter education events on voter registration in secondary schools and universities students (Amoud University, Elo University, Hargeisa university, Golis University, Admas university, Timacade University, Sh. Ali jawhar, Qalax and Alqasa secondary
Nagaad conducted nine sensitization meetings on voter registration education for university and secondary students. The mobilization teams visited Al-Aqsa School, Sh. ALi Jawhar Primary School, Sh. Ali Jawhar Secondary School, Amoud University and Eelo University in Borama and Qalax Secondary School, Tima Cadde University in Gebiley, Arabsiyo Primary School and Arabsiyo Secondary School. These mobilization happened between 17th to 24th of October, 2015. The overall purpose of sensitization meeting  was to heighten voter registration education awareness of the registration process for people reside in Awdal region and increased voting registration participation in upcoming voting registration in region.


2.3. Public voter education awareness raising on voter registration in 20 rural/semi-urban sites
During the reporting period, Nagaad conducted 20 public voter education awareness raising sessions in the target villages and districts. The aim of these awareness raising sessions were to increase peoples understanding on voter registration, and to reduce misinformation, misconceptions and rumor around national elections and registration process in the target region.

During the public awareness raising, Nagaad used a vehicle mounted with microphone and amplifiers to transmit messages/announcements on voter registration education throughout the village. Major areas focused on the implementation of this program rural and semi rural villages where there is limited access of Radio and TV to provide wide information on voter registration. The messages put on the air by the Vehicle were focused on general civic voter education and voting registration information such as:-

1. 1 Why voting registration  is  important
1. 2 Who has a right to register voting registration
1. 3 Registration materials

3.1 Design and disseminate 2-minute video clip on proper voter registration through TVs and street screens
Nagaad developed a script of 2-minute video clip, the video clip which is equipped the sign language was intended to educate people on voter education. The video message conveyed proper voter registration steps and encouraging messages for active participation, The first draft was shared with NEC for  approval, the video was broadcasted through local two TVs and three street screens (Idaacada, Near Dahabshiil Bank and Near Telesom Center).

3.2 Design and put up twelve billboard of (1.5m*2.5m) in target locations.
Nagaad designed Ten billboards of (2m*3m) which were set up in Gebiley, Arabsiyo, Kala Baydh, Wajaale, Allay baday, Dila, Baki, Boon, Idhanka deero-yahanka, and Qol Ujeed. The Billboards were depicted simple and illustrative steps for proper voter registration and conveyed encouraging messages for active participation. The messages in the Billboards are expected to reach 20% of the population catchments of each town.

Since most companies have no available billboards in the target areas, Nagaad contributed to construct the steel-frames of the billboards in Arabsiyo, Wajaale, Gebiley, Kalabaydh and Dila Districts.

3.3 Design and disseminate IEC materials depicting encouraging and voter registration messages ( leaflets, T-shirts, Posters, Art work and caps)
During first week of October, Nagaad designed and produced IEC materials (1,000 posters, 500 T-shirts and 500 caps) for the voter education awareness raising campaigns. The posters, T-shirts and caps are depicted encouraging messages and drawings for active participation of the voter registration. The IEC materials were distributed in all events at universities, secondary schools and public campaigns to portray the messages to public. The posters were put up at teashops, restaurants, hotels, schools and universities to reach large number of eligible voters in the target project areas. It is expected that the IEC materials will promote desired and positive attitude towards the upcoming voter registration in the Somaliland.

3.4 Design and disseminate SMS text messages on proper voter registration through mobile phones
Nagaad network designed three text message for the public to encourage active participation of all eligible voters in Somaliland in the upcoming voter registration. The messages is intended to reach approximately 1.2 million Telesom users across the country.

The messages were as follows:

  •     First messages which is released on November 6th was " Muwaadin is-diiwaan gelinta codbixiyuhu waa furaha doorasho xor iyo xalaal ah"
  •     Second messages which is released on November 12th was "" Muwaadin is-diiwaan gelinta codbixiyuhu waa furaha doorasho xor iyo xalaal ah"
  •     Third messages which is released on November 29th was "Ka faaidayso fursadda qaadashada kaadha cod-bixinta xilliga diiwaan gelinta codixiyayaasha"


Key achievements  ( Qualitative Impact )
1. Nagaad Network, NEC, IOM and other stakeholders (Other partners implementing the project) produced a common messages for the awareness raising session and for the IEC Materials. These messages are intended to reduce the confusions and misunderstanding, it will also  encourage active participation of all eligible voters.
2. Nagaad Network conducted public voter registration awareness raising campaign to 20 rural villages in Maroodi-jeex and Awdal regions. Nagaad hired vehicles mounted with load speakers for the public awareness raising.
3. Nagaad designed and disseminated 3 text messages through Telesom company. The message is intended to reach approximately 1.2 Million Telsom Users.
4. Nagaad produced 13 art-works/diagrams showing different messages of educating people on voter registration. The art-works are used for the IEC materials and Billboards, and for the future awareness raising sessions.
5. Nagaad set-up 10 billboards in ten different districts and villages in the project intervention area. These billboards are depicted messages and art-works to encourage people to take part the voter registration.
6. Nagaad Network designed, produced and distributed a large amount of IEC materials ( 1000 leaflets, 500 T-Shirts and 500 Caps) to use for the awareness raising sessions. The IEC materials are distributed on public awareness raising sessions, town hall meetings and the sensitization meetings.
7. Nagaad produced a 2 minute video clip for voter education awareness raising. The video is intended to release on local TV stations and street screens in Hargeisa. The video which is added in sign language will also be used for the next awareness raising on voter registration.  
8. Nagaad Network conducted voter education sessions in some of  universities and secondary schools of Maroodi-Jeex and Awdal regions.