The Joint UN Programme on Women’s Political Leadership, Participation and Empowerment (JP WPE) is a collaborative initiative between the Federal Government represented by the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development (MoWHRD) and the UN represented by the UNDP, UN Women, and UNSOM with the goal of ‘strengthening women’s leadership and participation in decision-making processes and structures in Somalia; making them more inclusive and gender responsive’. The JP WPE is a multi-year initiative aiming at promoting transformational change for gender equality and women’s political empowerment. It is a four year programme from 2016-2020 which will use the Multi-Partner Trust Fund Modality (MPTF) established under the Somali Development and Reconstruction Facility (SDRF).
The JP WPE will deepen the ongoing efforts by UNDP, UN Women, and UNSOM to strengthen women’s political participation, decision-making and leadership role; in particular, building on and consolidating the gains made under the on-going joint programme, ‘Strengthen Women’s Role and Participation in Peacebuilding – Towards a just, fair and peaceful Somalia’ supported by Peacebuilding Fund, by building on and strengthening these ongoing efforts at the federal and state levels. Over the past years, UN efforts resulted in women’s active engagement in state-formation and other political processes, including the National Consultative Forum and regional consultation held on Federal Electoral Model in 2015. The adoption of 30% reserved seats for women in both houses of Federal Parliament in the 2016 electoral model is a concrete outcome of the on-going efforts. The JP WPE will further upscale the on-going efforts and initiatives, consolidate gains and expand reach, in particular at state levels.
In 2013, the Federal Government of Somalia re-established the national machinery for gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development (MoWHRD) inter alia, is mandated to strengthen women’s participation in political and public decision-making processes; to advance the role of Somali Women as peace-builders, as economic actors and as figures central to the promotion of community stability and social cohesion . At the state level, ministries responsible for women and human rights development are being established. In Puntland, the Ministry of Women Development and Family Affairs (MoWDAFA) has been actively engaged on gender equality issues for several years. In Jubbaland, ISWA and Galmudug, ministers responsible for gender-related issues have been appointed. In Somaliland, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MOLSA) coordinates gender equality policies and programmes whilst supporting women’s political participation through monitoring and research, capacity building and civic education/public awareness raising. While these national machineries exist, they are confronted with diverse capacity challenges and limited resources to address the extensive limitations faced by Somali women and girls in achieving greater representation and in politics and decision-making.
Besides government’s efforts, a wide range of Somali women civil society organizations, cover crucial areas of service delivery, including health, support to survivors of sexual and gender based violence, legal assistance, economic empowerment, literacy and education. Women’s groups and movement– both formal associations and informal networks – have been at the center of social mobilization in support of peace. Much of the good work civil society has done to advance peace in Somalia has relied on women’s groups as mobilizers and conveners. However, these expertise and experiences are yet to be fully considered in political processes and are established outside official political decision-making structures because these works have remained in the family or individual sphere rather than being, for example, a clan response.
The JP WPE aims to achieve the following three outcomes:
(1) Key and enabling legislations and policies are reformed/adopted to promote Gender Equality and women's political participation;
(2) increased voice and recognition of women as leaders and decision-makers;
(3) Enhanced capacity of MoWHRD and Ministries of Women in Somaliland and Putland to coordinate and advocate for increasing women participation and gender equality in political and electoral processes.