Gender equality – the work is never done!
25 Jun 2015
Being the youngest in a family of seven, I am constantly reminded by my twin sister, who is slightly older than me by 30 minutes, that I am the ‘baby’ of the family which I tend to disagree with her but she always wins the arguments!
I lost my dad at quite a young age, unfortunately my mother never had the chance to go to school she managed to raise us singlehandedly. She always emphasised the need to get girls educated, this has influenced me throughout my life as I have always felt compelled in helping the less needy members of society, especially women, to excel in life.
Education is the single most powerful way to lift people, especially women, out of poverty. I have been fortunate enough to become a trustee for an international charity that helps orphaned and destitute girls through orphan sponsorship programme in Northern Kenya. Girls as young as 12 years old work to contribute to family incomes, forcing them to drop out of school. Others take on caring roles to assist their mothers, these impacts on their performance. The same challenges facing girls in northern Kenya is experienced by the peers across the border in Somalia; this has been compounded further by the breakdown of institutions due to the civil unrest there.
As part of the Rule of Law Security and Security Institutions Group Somalia (joint initiative of UNDP and UNFPA) I deal with one of the most horrendous crimes against women – gender based violence (GBV). In Somalia widespread gender-based violence is a crime that is committed every day - by both civilians and men in uniform across the country.
According to UNFPA supported GBV Information Management System, rape, sexual and physical assaults constituted 90% of all the incidents reported in 2013-20114. Against this backdrop, it has become evidently clear that there’re need for a multi-sector approach and the need for women to be part and parcel of the decision making process. Ostensibly, this lead to the setting up of a community oriented policing (COP) programme by UNDP Rule of Law and Security Institution and UNFPA in Garowe, Puntland, Somalia.
At the present there are six female volunteers who are working at the Model police station with the overarching aim of enabling members of the community to report crimes to the police on a timely basis, and this in turn helped break barriers between the community and the police.
“I never thought that my role would enable me to help so many victims of crime. I volunteer 3 days a week at the Model Police Station in Garowe. My job is challenging and at the same time exciting as not every day is the same. I help mainly women who come and report crime; this may vary from reporting a missing person to, even, a rape. In the future, I plan to become the first female GBV investigator” (Muhubo Mohamed - community oriented policing team)
So far since the inception of the COP programme in October 2014, 30 cases have been brought to court leading to the convictions of the perpetrators of those crimes. One of the most significant cases was about a rapist who was jailed for 20 years on the tail end of last year. This case brought together the community, the police, the courts, all working together tirelessly to get this conviction. Eventually the COP project will be expanded to the other parts of Somalia sometime this year.
The rape conviction may not be the watershed moment in ending SGBV; nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction in helping address the problems of crimes in general.