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AU mission in Somalia trains women on human rights

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Dozens of women from the Southwest state of Somalia completed online training on human rights and gender protection, a program that would help Somali women and girls to equip them with the knowledge to promote human rights and address violations against women and children.

Sponsored by the African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM], the training was conducted on Tuesday and brought together at least 18 women mainly from Baidoa, the regional administrative capital of Southwest. The event was organized by the AMISOM Protection, Human Rights, and Gender [PHRG] unit in collaboration with the Somali Youth Volunteers Association [SYVA].

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, AMISOM has of late embraced technology by using such online training to impart knowledge and address societal challenges affecting women and children in Somalia, the mission said in a statement.

Ambassador Francisco Madeira, the AU representative to Somalia, encouraged participants to push for the protection of human rights, adding that a safe environment for women and children would bring about a peaceful country. The mission has been pushing for peace and stability in Somalia for over a decade now.

“While Somalia has made significant progress in promoting and protecting human rights, especially through the ratification and domestication of some relevant African Union and United Nations frameworks, we cannot ignore the fact that human rights violations are still common. This is a problem we must seek to address at various levels,” he said.

The AMISOM envoy urged participants to take advantage of the deliberations and knowledge from the highly-skilled facilitators from the PHRG unit and urged them to come up with targeted strategies and recommendations on how to improve the promotion and protection of human rights in Somalia.

“We remain committed to the promotion and protection of human rights in Somalia, which is in line with our mandate. However, an important part of this process is the role that you play as civil society organizations and dynamic young people in Somalia,” he noted.

Some of the topics the participants covered included; Introduction to Human Rights, Introduction to Children’s Rights, Human Rights and Islam, Introduction to Women’s Rights and Gender, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, Child Protection.

Participant Jamila Haji from Baidoa thanked AMISOM for the training opportunity and promised to share what they learned with other women and girls in Southwest State in order to improve human rights and address any violations.

“We have gained a lot of knowledge from this training. We will share the knowledge and skills gained with our people back at home. Challenges are there but we need to come up with durable solutions. AMISOM can only support and facilitate just as they did with this training but ultimately it is upon us to address the challenges our people face,” Jamila said.

Due to unending war, women and children are the most affected, with Al-Shabaab often recruiting young men and killing those who don't toe to the line. At times, the militants and even the Somali National Army [SNA] have been linked to serious cases of rape and defilement but due to a weak law, most of them have gone unpunished.

The United Nations and other international partners have been pushing for the enactment of legislation that protect these vulnerable groups. This year alone, over ten rape and defilement cases have been reported but there is a possibility that many go unreported due to threats and intimidations from perpetrators.