By: Mubaarik Fuaad Hassan
1991, Somaliland has sought international recognition as an independent state since 1991. No foreign government recognizes its sovereignty,, and it has held several successful elections since its declaration of independence, including presidential, parliamentary, and local council elections. However, the participation of women in these elections has been limited due to various challenges. This academic article aims to explore the challenges faced by Somaliland women in political participation and the role of women in Somaliland’s democracy.
The Challenges Faced by Somaliland Women in Political Participation:
Somaliland women face several challenges in political participation, including a male-dominated society, religion, and cultural norms. The patriarchal nature of Somaliland society limits women’s political participation. Women are often seen as inferior to men and are expected to fulfil traditional gender roles such as caring for the household and the family. This has led to a lack of representation of women in government and politics.
Religion is another factor that has limited women’s political participation in Somaliland. Islam is the dominant religion in Somaliland, and some interpretations of Islamic teachings prohibit women from holding political positions. This has resulted in a lack of support for women’s political participation from religious leaders and conservative groups.
Cultural norms in Somaliland also play a role in limiting women’s political participation. Many traditional practices in Somaliland, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, and honour killings, have a negative impact on women’s rights and limit their ability to participate in public life.
The Role of Women in Somaliland’s Democracy:
Despite these challenges, women in Somaliland have made some progress in recent years in terms of political participation. In the June 2021 parliamentary and local council elections, a record number of women ran for office. However, not a single woman was elected to parliament, while only a few were elected to the local council. This highlights the need for more efforts to be made to promote women’s political participation in Somaliland.
The government of Somaliland has recognised the importance of promoting women’s political participation and has taken some steps towards this goal. The president of Somaliland has publicly expressed his commitment to giving women political positions and has appointed a few women to government positions. However, the representation of women in government and politics remains low, and more needs to be done to ensure that women’s voices are heard in decision-making processes.
Several laws related to women’s rights have been proposed in Somaliland, including a law on rape, a law on political participation and women’s quota, and a law on FGM. However, these laws have not been approved yet, and their implementation remains challenging. To ensure that women’s rights are protected and their voices are heard in government and politics, it is crucial to prioritise the approval and implementation of these laws.
In recent years, some women in Somaliland have taken steps to challenge the patriarchal norms and cultural practices that limit their political participation. For instance, a female politician founded a political party, which is a significant challenge to Somaliland’s governance system that has never given women a voice and has not tested women’s leadership.
In a nutshell, promoting women’s political participation is essential for the development and success of Somaliland’s democracy. It is important to address the challenges faced by women in Somaliland and to take concrete steps towards promoting their participation in government and politics. This includes addressing cultural and religious barriers, promoting women’s education and empowerment, and ensuring that laws protecting women’s rights are approved and implemented. Only then can Somaliland truly achieve democratic governance and social justice for all its citizens.
Mubaarik Fuaad Hassan
Freelancer Journalist and Communication Specialist