First conference for Somali women legislators opens in Mogadishu

25 Apr 2017

First conference for Somali women legislators opens in Mogadishu

Mogadishu - Somali women parliamentarians attended the opening of the first annual consultative conference since the conclusion of the 2016 electoral process to discuss their roles in legislative assemblies.

The conference was opened by the Speaker of the House of the People, Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari, and participants have been drawn from the federal parliament and regional assemblies, the executive branch of the federal government and civil society.

The Speaker told the two-day conference that there was a need to strengthen the agenda of women members of parliament (MPs) to address the challenges they face.

“I believe the quality of women leadership whether in parliament, the executive or civil society, depends on their training to promote their leadership qualities and address women’s issues”, Mr. Jawari added.

The federal Minister for Women and Human Rights, Hon. Deeqa Yasin Yusuf, called on women members of regional and federal parliaments to forge unity in order to achieve their goals.

“I know if we become united -- the women MPs in regional states and federal parliament, the ministers and members of the civil society working on women issues -- our voice will be heard, and we can attain our goals”, the Minister added.

Hon. Betty Amongi, a Ugandan MP who is also a parliamentary gender expert, reminded participants that some had benefitted from the 30 percent parliamentary gender quota that was adopted for the 2016 electoral process.

“You’re supposed to sleep and walk and think of what are you going to do for the women of Somalia. Don’t think that I should behave well so that next time my tribe picks me. You should dream and work to think of what are you doing to shape the life of the women of Somalia,” said Ms. Amongi.

An MP from South West State, Hon. Maryan Moalimu Isaak, said the conference would galvanize women in all sectors to develop an agenda for Somalia. The chairperson of the Somalia Women Parliamentary Caucus, Hon.Bibi Khalif Mohamed, welcomed the conference as an indication that the country’s democracy is maturing.

In his opening remarks, the UNDP Country Director for Somalia, George Conway, lauded the progress made in last year’s electoral process, noting that there has been an increase in gender representation in state assemblies in South West, Galmudug, Jubbaland, HirShabelle and Puntland.

The conference is taking place three months after the conclusion of the electoral process that increased the number of women federal MPs from 14 percent in the 2012-2016 parliament to 24 per cent in the current parliament.