Somalia women: Happy International Women’s Day


By Abdirashid M. Dahir

I want to use the occasion of International Women’s Day to heap praise on the contribution of our women both at home and abroad. Somali women have been at the forefront in fight against poverty and long-dragging hostility in many parts of the country.

We got women entrepreneurs everywhere, who are really willing to make a difference, far ahead of some men addicted to narcotic leaves of Khat, widely sold throughout Somalia. I am sure, there’s a big difference and by day, things take different forms for women and girls.

Until recently, the notion of sending girls into school was more modest among Somalis, except for less conservative ones and Diaspora returnees. Thanks to accelerated awareness, now even we debate on the issue of improving girls’ enrollment at schools to more staggering number than it’s today.

First of all, Happy International Women’s Day; our mothers, sisters and wives have endured much of the civil unrest for over two decades. Violence, human rights violations including rape and discrimination were rife in our society, but I couldn’t be hearing of these harrowing practices any more, given how women continue to be a dominant force in all spheres of life.

In Somalia, still we have some challenges ahead of us to crack barriers to equal participation as well as opportunities in various fields, most importantly politics. To this end, I must salute the move to reserve 30% of seats in Upper House and Lower House for women, who really deserve more due to the fact, that most Somali men calling the shots failed us all time in their tenure of office, I mean for development-loving Somalis (both men and women).

On upcoming selection process, countdown to secured quota must begin today, not tomorrow in distrustful Somali political landscape.

Somali women have achieved so much success in matters ranging from building healthier family to mediating in disputes into which men are drawn. They are part of stronger and more prosperous Somalia, laying the groundwork for motherhood in the labor force.

On this day, International Women’s Day: I want to discuss the success story of a woman preserving the past for the present and future generations. Halimo Ali Isse, 47, lives in Godobjiran, a remote district, 90km off Puntland capital, Garowe. I have read her story on Radio Ergo, a humanitarian broadcaster, with programmes in Somali.

She bagged an inspiring journey from pastoral mother to district councilor in a country women have a little in having a decision-making role. In Puntland, traditional leaders like considerable swathes in the country have a final say on almost everything, and they could hardly pick a lady for such arduous task that demands women be academically strong.

Isse left her hut after tropical cyclone swept all but 30 heads of her livestock into the Indian Ocean. With life seemingly lying in ruins, the same women who was used to countryside of Eyl started work as teashop owner and female farmer in this small town. Through time, she managed to have a better plan for her future and that of her children by building one-roomed house.

Being Godobjiran district council member came at a cost. Elders initially became a stumbling block to her nomination because she couldn’t write and read. This illiteracy defied all odds and placed her in a position of influence in her community in the end. In addition, she attends adult literacy class, and gives traditional weaving and handicrafts lessons to girls and women in the district.

It’s a time for her to sell products on the Internet.

All in good time, we need to foster greater participation and empowerment. Women do make change in Somalia.

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