Somalia: UN urges women MPs to promote peace and reconciliation
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A group of women federal parliamentarians said they will launch public awareness campaigns aimed at promoting peace and reconciliation in Somalia during a working meeting in Mogadishu on Friday.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Michael Keating, met with the 17 female members of parliament (MPs) and discussed the crucial contribution that women can make in fostering peace-building initiatives.
“Women have a very important role in conflict resolution and reconciliation, and that has got to start in Parliament”, SRSG Keating told the MPs.
Keating urged the women lawmakers to use their leadership positions to further the cause of peace in the country.
“The opportunities before you to influence are very many, (in part) through bills coming through Parliament in terms of the electoral process and the security sector”, he noted.
The day-long meeting also addressed the need to improve networking between the federal parliament and the regional state assemblies to encourage the sharing of lawmakers’ knowledge and expertise.
Keating challenged the legislators to transcend their clan allegiances and work together to seek solutions to issues affecting their communities.
Issaka Souare, a senior mediation adviser from the UN Department of Political Affairs in New York, urged the women parliamentarians to use their legislative powers to prevent conflict.
“You are opinion leaders, and it’s an opportunity for you to unite beyond clan lines and show examples of reconciliation”, he said.
The former Ugandan parliamentarian Lydia Wanyoto-Mutende called on the female legislators to use their positions of influence to establish village-level peace committees, promote disarmament efforts, and deter the recruitment of child soldiers.
The results of Somalia’s 2016 electoral process gave women candidates 24 percent of the seats in the current federal parliament, the highest level of female representation in the history of the legislative body.
The assembled MPs made an undertaking to support the constitutional review process and the enactment of electoral laws that will lay the groundwork for the one-person, one-vote election scheduled for 2020.