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Somali Women Seek Role in Leadership
Somali Women Challenge Men Who Have Led Somalia Into Conflict
By MOHAMED NUXURKEY 03/01/2012
Somali Women in Mogadishu
Somali Women in Mogadishu
Somalia’s professional women have expressed their ambitions towards increasing the visibility of the role of women participating in politics, particularly in the upcoming reforms this year. As part of this, they have asked the government to establish positive plans which could allow them to contest parliamentary seats, or even ministerial candidacy in the future.

Most women in the country believe that women should take a greater role in the politics, but there are those who believe women have no place in politics, uncomfortable with a public role for women.

However, many activist women are still tirelessly working to establish a better role for women in the future of Somalia. Amongst those is the spirited woman Malyuun Sheikh Haider, who is an official in the president's office of parliamentary relations. Speaking with Somalia Report on the role of women in politics, she is very optimistic about women taking positions in the upcoming government. “We have common goals as Somali women. I think Somali women can run for president, women can be serve as prime minister. We should also be able to compete for ministerial posts, and through this we are going to receive our rights. The majority of Somali women are now educators who can also serve to govern this country,” Malyuun told Somalia Report.

Somalis have differing views on women’s role in the political world, but nonetheless many still think that women would somehow be preferred as leaders rather than men, because they are more inclined to seek consensus, and because of the historical inability of Somali's male leaders to form strong leadership and manage compromise. “If I speak about my views toward womens' role in politics. I am not sure how women can lead this country, because this country is already hijacked by a collaborated group of men who are all criminals, who came to power in a bloody struggle. Speaking for myself, I would give my vote to a woman,” Mohamed Abdullah said in Mogadishu.

As the transitional federal government (TFG) is now facing more pressures from womens' lobbying groups in the country including the ministry of women’s development to raise opportunities for women throughout the country, the current government has nonetheless employed more women than others have before. “I can say women have already effected change here in our country, which is a good start in seeking for a better and more democratic nation. Since I was appointed to this ministry, I have been working on campaigns toward increasing the role of women in political presentation or any other public sectors, such as working in government offices, holding ministerial posts, etcetera,” Maryam Aways Jamaa, Minister for Women’s Development and Family Care, told Somalia Report.

“Women are always appointed to this post, as minister of women’s development, only. Why are women not named to other ministries? We need to have active participation in politics, we need women who could become president, or prime minister. We also need women to become a minister of foreign affairs, internal affairs or treasurer. I hope that in the next government, women will be leaders and take top positions in this government, after election reforms will be observed in Somalia which is scheduled in middle of this year. Previously representation for women was set 12 percent, but this was increased to 30 percent of women representation in the constituent assemblies, and even this is not sufficient,” Maryam added.

Though nearly every senior executive position in this government has been elected from the Somali diaspora, this has also inspired a number of women from abroad to pursue political positions in Somalia. Ubah Tahliil Warsameh, a well-known Somali woman activist, told Somalia Report that it was her own aspiration when returning to Somalia after spending several years in Canada. Ubah founded a womens' union to help affected by the conflict and strengthen their connections.

“Women are essential to every nations interests. Without women, men could not be doing anything. When women’s rights are neglected or denied, our country will remain mired in conflict. I hope that women can play a greater role in resolving Somalia’s conflicts, and my hope is very positive for this to change. The government must let women have a chance,” Ubah told Somalia Report.

Though forced into positions as breadwinners for their families during the decades of conflict that have followed from the collapse of central government in 1991, women in Somalia have hopes that their role will be better in the future.