Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Women in Somalia are coping with very serious trauma each day of their lives. The Somali society has been deeply affected by decades of war.  This is evidenced frequently in the emotional nature of their discussions concerning their country.

However, this has not incapacitated the women who are very much involved in the humanitarian sphere. The Somali Women's Agenda (SWA) represents nearly 200,000 women in Somalia and the diaspora. A core group meets regularly, traveling from the USA, Canada and Europe to join members living in East Africa. They tread carefully around political issues in Somalia to protect members still living in the country. Although the group does not engage with Shabaab (a terrorist group) or other extremists, the women find themselves with unique advantages of being able to reach perpetrators of violence and ideologues through their influential roles as mothers and wives.

The aim of SWA is to promote the role of women in politics and peace processes. A few of their members have managed to secure elected positions in the local and federal government. The group strongly advocated for women to be represented in the commission reviewing Somalia's new draft constitution and succeed in getting seven women on the 30-male dominated commission. Two of the women were members of SWA.

It has had to take women standing up in conflict areas to demand a seat on the peace-commissions, draft-constitution commissions and even peace discussion, in order to get things done.  In Liberia the women forced the men to finalize and complete a peace treaty negotiation by locking them in the meeting room. They then spearheaded the election of the first woman president in Liberia.

We see the same demands for a voice from women in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Somalia is no exception even though there is no immediate sight of peace or stability in that country. The women are rallying together to have a voice in the political forums and assemblies.

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