Somali MPs attend leadership training on gender equality
Entebbe, 25 September 2017. Somalia MPs and Senators from both Federal and State parliaments have attended a first of its kind, five day “Transformative Leadership for Results” training in Entebbe, Uganda with the aim of enhancing their leadership skills to transform Somali organizations and institutions, and to promote gender responsive legal and policy reforms.
The event was facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) and Parliamentary Support Projects, with funding from the UK, Sweden, Norway, and the European Union.
In a historic achievement during the 2016 electoral process, Somali women secured approx 25% of seats in both houses of the 10th Federal Parliament: 24% (63/262) MPs in the Lower House and 25% (13/52) Senators in the Upper House. This marked a 71% increase from 13% female representation during the 2012 selection process. However, despite the milestone, Somali women are still far from enjoying equal rights and opportunities with men. Women and girls especially are more susceptible to sexual and gender based violence. Gender disparity in employment, access to credit, technology and the information needed to set up and compete in small business remain high. Access to services, such as health and education, by women and girls are also low.
The five day training focused on increasing the ability of MPs and Senators to promote gender responsive reforms and also looked at how to strategically address the underlying social causes of gender inequality and identify sustainable “breakthrough initiatives” that can lead to change in the area.
Speaking during the training at the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe, Mariam Mohamoud Isse, Deputy Chairperson of the Human Rights, Women and Humanitarian Affairs Committee of the House of the People of the Federal Parliament of Somalia, said she is committed to championing women’s rights. “It is important to take concrete actions for gender equality, and our committee will investigate issues related to GBV and discrimination,” she said.
Dr. Farah Abdi Hassan, an MP with the Somali Federal Parliament, said that action-oriented leadership can transform Somalia from a post-conflict country to a modern developed state. “After this training, we plan to educate our people and raise awareness that women’s empowerment is needed to attain social, economic, and political progress in our country,” he said.
Catriona Byrne, UNDP Cross Cutting Unit Manager, said that strong leadership is crucial to achieving gender equality. “The fastest way to achieve development is through promotion of rights of all people, and it is important to empower MPs with the leadership skills needed to be able to address and support the needs of women and girls,” she said.
UNDP Somalia’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) project works to address gender inequality in Somali society and to respond to the acute challenges faced by Somali women today. The project works in partnership with Ministries of Women and other line ministries, government authorities and CSOs, to promote legal and policy reforms on gender equality that benefit all Somali people.
The UNDP Parliamentary Support Project assists the Somali government to develop inclusive and effective parliamentary institutions in Somalia. The project supports MPs to develop their law-making, oversight and representation skills; build functioning parliamentary administrations and infrastructures; and facilitates parliamentary outreach and civic engagement, in particular with women and young people.
Contact: Judith Otieno, UNDP Gender and Women’s Empowerment Project