Somali women parliamentarians took part a UNDP supported leadership training in Addis Ababa, as part of UN initiative to support gender equality and women's political participation in Somalia, July 2019. Photo: UNDP Somalia

31 July 2019, Addis Ababa. Twelve Somali women parliamentarians have attended a UNDP supported leadership training in Addis Ababa, as part of UN initiative to support gender equality and women's political participation in Somalia. The female MPs who took part came from the House of the People of the Federal Parliament of Somalia, and the Upper House, or Senate.

The training was organized by UNDP Somalia under a joint UN Women's Political Participation, Leadership, and Empowerment (WPE) project, and aimed to increase the MPs' skills in advocating for gender equality and the rights of women and girls, and in taking more prominent leadership roles in decision making in government. It also looked at how to strategically address the underlying social causes of gender inequalities and to identify initiatives for positive change. Those taking part were also trained to carry out the same training for other female members of parliament and women leaders in Somalia.

Senator Shukri Aden, of the Upper House of the Somali Federal Parliament, said training on leadership was vital for women. "These trainings are key in that they help us to forge strategic alliances and to create a platform for women leaders, so that we can work together to advance gender equality and women's empowerment in Somalia."

Somalia's Gender Inequality Index remains one of the highest in the world, at 0.777, with a maximum of 1 denoting complete inequality, placing Somalia at the fourth-highest position globally for gender inequality. Lack of access to education, gender-based violence, high maternal mortality, female genital mutilation, high numbers of women becoming internally displaced, and high percentage of child marriage are some of the obstacles that contribute to inequality and which create obstacles for women in equally participating in public and political life.

However, women's representation in politics in Somalia has been increasing in recent elections, following the acceptance of a 30 percent quota for women's representation in parliament at federal and federal member state level. The quota, which was won through sustained advocacy by Somali women's groups with UN and international support, paved the way for women to then win 25 percent of seats in parliament in the 2016 federal electoral process. In 2019, Somali women also developed a Women's Charter, which calls for fifty percent representation in political and socio-economic arenas.

Hon. Nouria Isse, an MP of the House of the People of the Federal Parliament, said that she is committed to using the knowledge she gained to train other female members of the parliament at both federal and federal state level. "Because of this training, we now have in house leadership experts who can train a larger number of women parliamentarians, parliamentary committees and federal member states assemblies," she said.

Mubarik Mohamoud, UNDP Project Manager for the Women's Political Participation Project, highlighted that strong leadership is crucial for promoting women's political empowerment and enhancing their role and participation in public life. "It is crucial for women MPs to enhance their existing leadership skills so that they can advocate for, and implement, laws and policies promoting the participation of women in decision-making," he said.

UNDP works in partnership with the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal State Ministries, to increase the participation and leadership role of women in peacebuilding and state-building processes in Somalia, under a UN Joint Programme on Women's Political Participation, Leadership and Empowerment. The Joint programme is carried out in collaboration with UN Women and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and with the support of the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom.



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