Somali women defend gender rule

5 Oct 2016

Somali women defend gender rule

Somali women leaders have called for a stop to politicization of the 30 percent gender rule.

Campaigners for greater representation of women in Somalia’s Parliament have stepped up their efforts in a bid to counter the statement by religious cleric, last week, suggesting that the reservation of 30 per cent of  seats for women goes against the tenets of Islam.  

The women accused those opposed to the quota of using politics to deny them their rightful share of Parliamentary seats, despite the support received from both the local population and the international community.

The chairperson of the Somali National Women’s Association and Deputy of the Committee of Goodwill Ambassadors, Ms Batula Ahmed Gabale, said the reservation of a quota of seats for women was vital to the development of Somalia as a strong stable nation because women constitute the majority of the Somali population.

“It is against the development of Somalia and I believe it is against the Somali government. Somali women are part of the society and they deserve to get jobs, participate in politics and have constitutional responsibilities to perform for the country,”said Gabale.

Mr Hasan Ahmed Sadiq, another member of the Committee of Goodwill Ambassadors said women are campaigning for the reservation of 30 percent of Parliamentary seats because Somalia is a patriarchal society which has denied them their rightful role in Parliament.

The Goodwill Ambassador dispelled claims that foreigners were behind the campaign to have 30 percent of seats in parliament reserved for women.

“It’s a struggle by the Somali women. It is women who asked men for the quota and the men agreed. The international community has no involvement at all,” Sadiq noted.

He said a recent statement by the Somalia Religious Council, which opposed the 30 percent gender rule, had confirmed his belief that more needs to be done to protect the rights of women.

Asha Siyad from the Somali Women Leadership Initiative traced the push for more representation in parliament to the year 2000 when a meeting held in Djibouti resolved to champion women’s rights. It was followed by meetings in Garowe which resolved to lobby for 20 percent representation, before it was increased to 30 percent in 2012.

Siyad said when the state of Somalia collapsed, more than 25 years ago, the people who were most affected were women and children. She said women had to fend for their families including their husbands.

“If children and women were the most affected, and now the country is being rebuilt, women, the most affected people have a role to play in the affairs of the country,” the official from the Somali Women Leadership Initiative added.

If Somalia achieves the 30 per cent quota of seats for Women in both houses of Parliament, the nation will be one of a number of countries with majority Muslim populations that have women taking up 30 percent or more of seats in their Parliaments. These countries include Tanzania, Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal and Sudan.