SRSG Keating meets women leaders over women’s representation in 2016 electoral process

A section of Somali women leaders attend a meeting on the political participation of women with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG), Michael Keating, held in Mogadishu, Somalia on 5 September 2016. UN Photo

5 Sep 2016

SRSG Keating meets women leaders over women’s representation in 2016 electoral process

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia Michael Keating has vowed to press for the full participation of Somali women in the 2016 electoral process during a meeting today with prominent women leaders headed by Federal Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, Zahra Samatar.

The women expressed concern that political leaders in the National Leadership Forum (NLF) had yet to adopt specific measures to implement a proposed 30 per cent quota of seats for women in the next federal parliament that will be chosen in the forthcoming electoral process.

“We were tasked to formulate a review committee to address the absence of women in politics out of a realization that women had been left out in the political process. We feel that the public has been influenced to believe that the 30 per cent quota for women is a foreign idea,“ Minister Samatar said.

The minister emphazised that the push for women’s political empowerment is coming from within Somali society, and she refuted claims that it was being imposed by the international community.

Mr. Keating reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to women’s political empowerment and pledged to engage the country’s leaders on the need to promote women’s participation in the electoral process.

However, he also stressed that women should strongly advocate for their rights and reminded them of some encouraging developments in favour of greater political participation for women in Somalia.

“We have you (the women leaders), which is incredibly important – the formation of the goodwill ambassadors. We have 30 per cent women in electoral colleges, which we will monitor and observe,“ Keating noted.

“(We have) 30 per cent members on the electoral teams, 50 per cent of the candidates of the upper house must be female, and a 50 per cent reduction in the fees paid by women to serve as MPs. Now this is not enough, but let’s not dismiss it as nothing. It’s significant,” he added.

Batula Sheikh Ahmed Gaballe, the Deputy Chairperson of the Goodwill Ambassadors appointed by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to promote the 30 per cent parliamentary quota, declared that women’s involvement in policymaking was critical to improving the delivery of social services.

“Women raise children, we are public servants. We want to feed the country as we work voluntarily in contributing to the peace process in Somalia. We also want to contribute to bringing peace back to Somalia. We want to improve maternal health care for women who die in the remote areas for lack of medical services. We need to save people,” she concluded.