The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed, visited Somalia on Sunday, to express her solidarity with Somali women’s calls for full and equal participation in political life, and the support of the international community for timely, inclusive, peaceful and credible elections.
In her various meetings in the capital, Mogadishu, Ms. Mohammed highlighted the country’s parliamentary elections as an opportunity to build on the progress made in women’s political participation.
She also emphasized that women’s full inclusion in all sectors of society would contribute to greater resilience, peace, and stability in the Horn of Africa country.
‘The peace dividend will not happen without women’
Currently, Somalia is holding elections for its Upper House, and is preparing for elections for its Lower House, known as the House of the People. The UN and Somalia’s other international partners have been heavily engaged in supporting national efforts to advance the poll, frequently voicing support for greater inclusion of women in the country’s political arena and urging leaders to safeguard a 30 per cent minimum quota.
“Somalia achieved a milestone at its last elections in 2016/17 with 24 per cent of parliamentary seats filled by women, and I am hopeful that the country will build on this by expanding women’s participation even further”, said Ms. Mohammed. “Ensuring the 30 per cent quota is met is an important first step to full representation and an inclusive society. The peace dividend will not happen without women”.
In Mogadishu, the Deputy Secretary-General met with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo,’ as well as Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and the National Consultative Council (NCC), whose members includes the leaders of the country’s Federal Member States and which is charged with providing overall direction for the elections.
“Prime Minister Roble and other members of the NCC have shown great leadership and commitment to advance women’s political participation, including through specific measures such as decreasing fees for women candidates and appointing Goodwill Ambassadors and Champions to advocate for greater inclusion,” the Deputy Secretary-General said.
“It will also be important to agree on a specific mechanism on how exactly the commitment of a minimum 30 per cent quota will be achieved in the upcoming elections,” she added.
Insecurity and political tensions
Ms. Mohammed’s other meetings included discussions with Somali elders as well as women leaders and advocates from a range of areas, including electoral management bodies, goodwill ambassadors, champions and civil society leadersShe expressed her solidarity with their efforts to bring about greater involvement of women in the country’s political sphere as well as in economic life, and noted concerns voiced on the overall situation of Somali women, including levels of violence and insecurity, and how this impacts their participation in political life.
On the elections and recent political tensions, she noted, “Somalia has achieved considerable momentum with its electoral process, and I was encouraged to hear the commitment from all I met with to ensuring that this momentum is sustained and that critical elections move forward as scheduled.”
“I have confidence in Somalia’s leadership to de-escalate any tensions and avoid action that could lead to violence and further delay the elections or undermine its credibility,” she added.
Concern over disappearance of Tahlik Farah
Somalia’s international partners recently expressed concern that the controversy surrounding the disappearance of IkranTahlil Farah, a Government agent, was creating political tensions that could impact on the functioning of the Federal Government of Somalia and disrupt the electoral process.
In a joint statement, they called for de-escalation, and noted that they continued to engage a wide range of Somali leaders to urge for a rapid resolution of the controversy, including a credible investigation into Ms. Tahil Farah’s disappearance and the completion of the electoral process without any further delay.
When asked about the case, the Deputy Secretary-General said the rule of law and access to justice are critical to protection from violence, and are the right of all women.