Somali women defend gender rule

unnamed-1_1Mogadishu, 5 October 2016 – Somali women leaders have called for a stop to politicization of the 30 percent gender rule.

The women accused those opposed to the quota of using politics to deny them their rightful share of parliamentary seats, despite the support received from both the local population and the international community.

The chairperson of the Somali National Women’s Association and the Deputy of the lobby group, Goodwill Ambassadors, Ms Batula Ahmed Gabale, said the 30 percent quota reserved for women was pragmatic since they make up majority of the Somali population.

“It is against the development of Somalia and I believe it is against the Somali government. Somali women are part of the society and they deserve to get jobs, participate in politics and have constitutional responsibilities to perform for the country,” the chairperson of the Somali National Women Association added.

The women also received support from their male counterparts, who urged electoral college delegates, mandated to choose members of parliament in the forthcoming electoral process, to consider women candidates.

A member of the Goodwill Ambassadors lobby group, Mr Hasan Ahmed Sadiq, said women lobbied for the 30 percent quota because Somalia is a patriarchal society which had denied them their rightful share in parliament.

The Goodwill Ambassadors member dispelled claims that foreigners were behind the campaign to have 30 percent of seats in parliament reserved for women.

“It’s a struggle by the Somali women. It is women who asked men (for the quota) and they (men) agreed. The international community has no involvement at all,” Sadiq noted.

He said a recent statement by the Somalia Religious Council, which opposed the 30 percent gender rule, had confirmed that more needs to be done to protect the rights of women.

Ms Asha Siyad from the Somali Women Leadership Initiative traced the push for more representation in parliament to the year 2000 when a meeting held in Djibouti resolved to champion women’s rights. It was followed by meetings in Garowe which resolved to lobby for 20 percent representation, before it was increased to 30 percent in 2012.

Ms Siyad said when the state of Somalia collapsed, more than 25 years ago, the people who were most affected were women and children. She said women had to fend for their families including their husbands.

“If children and women were the most affected, and now the country is being rebuilt, the most affected people (women) have a role to play in the affairs of the country,” the official from the Somali Women Leadership Initiative added.

Somali women have been lobbying for the 30 percent quota of seats in both lower and upper house to be reserved for them in the planned electoral process scheduled before the end of year.

Source: reliefweb

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