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Somaliland Women’s Political Participation Will Increase Citizens’ Confidence in Democracy

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Women are part of our society and their political engagement is invaluable. Building women’s and men’s equal participation in governance procedures is very important for sustaining inclusive and effective governance in Somaliland. As a developing society, it is very essential to recognize that women can play vital roles in their communities, as they are effective in advocating about pertinent issues that concern them. Regardless of the successes recorded in some Somaliland’s institutions, the underrepresentation of women in these political institutions is quite appalling. The reason for this is not far-fetched, as they face serious challenges trying to be a part of the political atmosphere of their country. These challenges include structural barriers emanating from discriminatory laws and cultural beliefs, which cripples the ability of women to vie for a political office.

Although there is a newly built democracy in Somaliland, tribalism is another limiting factor to women’s participation in Somaliland’s politics. The impact of this factor is enormous as it has its roots in the grassroots, the clans which are very crucial in getting elected into any political office. The traditions and the clan system favor only the male politicians and fails to recognize the woman as a permanent member of the family. In this system, a woman’s political ambition is not even given a chance to survive, as she does not even have a voice in her own constituency, let alone represent her people in the political landscape of the country. Other factors like social discrimination and aggressiveness towards the women folk, inability to get support as well as lack of adequate resources have really crippled the participation of women in the political affairs of the state.

It is true that women’s exclusion from the politics and decision-making tables was formalized by the culture but now the country has politically shifted from the clan-based to the multiparty system. Therefore, it is not just an issue of poor women representation in politics but also the poor development of inclusive and transparent democracies. Women have been playing a major role in Somaliland history and have greatly committed to independence, peace building, reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction. It is clear that women are the backbone when it comes to the reconstruction of the country and advocating for national stabilization, human rights, and democracy. With this antecedence, women’s political participation will increase the legitimacy of the governance, transparency of the growing institutions and provide transformative leadership in all sectors of government.  Also, their engagement will decrease the corruption, nepotism, tribalism, and injustice which is currently prevalent in several quarters. Women’s political involvement begins with increasing the number of slots allocated to women in vital decision-making positions like parliaments, local councils, and other governmental institutions. When we have a good number of female political figures in these positions, they stand a better chance of contributing more to nation building as well as addressing very important and challenging issues affecting the well-being of women.

However, women in Somaliland are still largely absent from national and local decision-making bodies and are excluded from political processes especially in recent times. Despite representing half the country’s population, women comprise less than 3 percent of Somaliland’s legislators. Evidence from developing countries around the world shows that an increase in women’s participation in the political life of their countries often leads to improved socio-economic conditions, as many of these women– more readily than their male counterparts– tackle poverty reduction and service delivery as areas of primary importance to their constituents and supporters, as seen in Rwanda. During the civil war and up to the 1994 genocide, women’s parliamentary participation was 18 percent at most. This number increased in the years leading up to the 2003 constitution, reaching a record 56.3 percent in 2008. The increased numbers of women’s participation are a result of gender-sensitive constitutional quotas, an innovative electoral structure, and the participation of partner institutions. Against this backdrop, in a bid to correct this, an electoral quota is considered an effective administrative tool which can pave way for a mandatory percentage of women candidates for the leadership and decrease the historic exclusion of the women from the politics.  The outcome of a meeting at the presidential palace, which had Somaliland’s President, Hon. Musa Bihi Abdi and his cabinet in attendance revealed suggestions made to reserve a quota for women in parliamentary and local government elections.  For, Mr. Musa Bihi Abdi this is a step in the right direction and it could be historic when it is approved by the parliament and the country’s house of elders. Once this bill is approved, it will bring a high increase in female political representation and will eliminate the domestic gender-based violence. This will also go a long way in strengthening women’s rights and addressing barriers to political partaking which are critical to achieving an equal society where everyone has his or her own voice by improving women’s access to justice, thereby increases citizens’ confidence in democracy.

Women’s exclusion from decision-making bodies is detrimental to democracy and any democracy that excludes half of its people is a big contradiction and huge failure. In that case, we need to work towards strengthening women’s rights and political participation, because increased female political influence will promote the growth of our democratic institutions and improve our social wellbeing.

 

Musa M Isse

Stockholm, Sweden

 

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Musa M. Isse is a journalist, author and social entrepreneur based in Stockholm, Sweden

He can be reached at     haji_musa @hotmail.com

Academic Researches

Somaliland: Sources of Campaign Financing in 2017 Presidential Election

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In a new research carried out by Center for Policy Analysis (CPA), a local Think tank organization publishes a new report on the Sources of Campaign Financing in 2017 Presidential Election in Somaliland. The new report focuses on how the election campaigns were financed by the three political parties and the amount each party spent on those campaigns.

You can download the full report in the below link:

Sources of Campaign Financing in 2017 Presidential Election  

 

 

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“Berbera Special Economy Zone Will Model Jebel Ali Freezone” DP World

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DP World Press Release

We are pleased to inform you about DP World’s agreement with the Government of the Republic of Somaliland to develop Berbera Special Economic Zone (BSEZ). The project will build on DP World’s existing operations at the Port of Berbera where the port has recently recorded the highest container volumes in its history. Berbera SEZ benefits from excellent connectivity being located less than 15km from Berbera port and is situated along the Berbera-Hargeisa highway.

DP World – which has over 35 years’ experience in developing and managing large-scale special economic zones and ports – will model the project on Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) in Dubai and will position Berbera as a gateway for the region; especially for those companies looking to serve countries in the Horn of Africa and the hinterland.  Investors and tenants in the zone will enjoy the benefit of an attractive regulatory framework and the ease of doing business via a One Stop Shop.

 

Presentation

Please see a short presentation on Berbera SEZ By Clicking Here  

 

Registration of Interest

Work on the project is underway and as we expect demand for the project to be high, we are currently inviting prospective companies to submit their specific requirements for operation in the SEZ.

To register your interest in Berbera SEZ, please fill out the following form: HERE

Once we have received your response, we would be delighted to discuss your requirements in further detail and address any questions you might have about Berbera SEZ. For any immediate follow up queries please contact us on PLEZ@dpworld.com

 

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Opinion: Where Do I Stand in a Changing Region?

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Over the past six decades, the Horn of Africa has been a region of strife and conflict ravaging both the human lives and state resources. Poor leadership style in the region criminalized both the state and the economy. This is why many fellow citizens in the region believe that the conflicts and crisis in the region are a state-driven.

Somalia’s prolonged state collapse is one of the heartbreaking troubles in the region and greatly impacted on the regional peace and stability. Though it could be debatable, one of the major drivers of the Somalia’s protracted state collapse, is Somalia’s irredentism policy towards the Somali-speaking regions in the Horn. Djibouti, Somali region in Ethiopia, and the Northeastern region in Kenya could be an example. In this case, re-establishing strong state institutions in Somalia by the Somalis, could mean what, to the other states in the region? Do the regional states are honest about restoring well-built state institutions in Somalia? Do Somalis are ready to abandon their irredentism foreign policy objective? These are some thought-provoking questions.

The Republic of Somaliland, which merged with the Italian Somalia in 1960 to form the Greater Somali State in the Horn of Africa declared its withdrawal from the union in 1991, following a bitter war with the Somalia’s military regime. Somaliland has not yet attained de jure recognition from the international community. This is another dilemma in the region which needs a particular attention and consideration of all parties concerned.

The decades-long standoff between Somaliland and Somalia’s warring factions, and even the successive transitional and federal governments, have been shaped by Somalia’s political instability since the collapse of the central government in 1991. This dilemma dates back to the early decades of Somalia’s creation as a state. However, if this stand off were not settled by the concerned parties, it will bring another cycle of conflict and confrontation.

The Ethio–Eritrea border conflict is another dimension of the region’s conflicts. This conflict claimed the lives of over 70,000 people on both sides. Though the two countries are closing up a chapter of hate and hostility, what does this first round negotiation and dialogue mean to the other states in the region? Could it bring political and economic change?.

The Djibouti–Eritrea clash near Ras Doumeira is another potential conflict which may erupt sooner or later, if the two countries fail to address it. Therefore, ending the border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea will definitely have an effect on this part of the region. The question is: what kind of effect it will bring?

Claiming Somalia’s territorial waters by Kenya, is a breach of the international boundaries, including territorial waters, and, without hesitation, the Kenyans has shown an interest to extend its territorial sea and jurisdiction to the Somalia waters due to the inward-looking of the Somalia politicians. This is a potential conflict which could erupt sooner or later between Somalia and Kenya.

The four-year old conflict between the Dinka and the Neur, the largest and the second largest ethnic group in South Sudan respectively, is another setback which greatly affected the prospects of the South Sudan’s state in post-independence period. Without doubt, the regional states exported their differences to South Sudan allying with the warring parties.

An oil-rich Abyei region between the two Sudans is another contested area. The two countries are claiming the possession of that part of the region. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement reached by the two sides in 2005 highlighted the importance of resolving the conflict in the contested area of Abyie. This is another potential conflict which can escalate at any time in the future if the two parties fail to resolve it.

Despite the fact that the Horn of Africa is a troubled region, I am not cynical about seeing a peaceful and a prosperous Horn African region, but, the willingness of the regional leaders to realize that ambition is discouraging. I have a grave concern over the future of the region, and returning to war in a struggle to control both the state power and natural resources in the expenses of others is inevitable and unavoidable.

I ask myself, Do the Somali leaders wherever they are aware the changing nature of the Horn? Where do they stand in this changing region? Not as individuals, but as Somali politicians and intellectuals.

 

Nasir M. Ali

Hargeisa, Somaliland

 

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