African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

  • African Press International Daily Online News Channel

  • * * API on Facebook

  • Total Visitors

    • 5,362,190 HITS
  • Flag tracker

    web counter
  • RSS BBC News – Africa

  • RSS BBC News – Home

    • Police make Syria plea to UK women April 24, 2014
      British counter-terrorism police chiefs make an unprecedented appeal to Muslim women to persuade their relatives against travelling to Syria to fight in the civil war.
    • Ukraine move draws Putin threat April 24, 2014
      Ukrainian commandos advance on the separatist stronghold of Sloviansk in the country's east, as Russia's President Putin warns of "consequences".
    • Crime falls 15% in England and Wales April 24, 2014
      Overall crime in England and Wales falls by 15% in 2013, an official survey shows - but there are signs of rises in certain categories, according to police figures.
    • Labour to cut ties with Co-op Bank April 24, 2014
      The Labour Party is looking to sever its links with the troubled Co-op Bank, bringing to an end one of the oldest political partnerships in the UK.
    • Ecclestone denies bribery in Germany April 24, 2014
      Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone denies charges of bribery at the start of his trial in Munich and says he will fight to clear his name.
    • DJ Travis denies indecent assault April 24, 2014
      Former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis pleads not guilty to a single charge of indecent assault against a woman in January 1995.
    • Korea ferry disaster school reopens April 24, 2014
      The South Korean school devastated by the loss of many of its students in a ferry disaster last week starts to hold classes again.
    • Lib Dems 'to fight for EU cause' April 24, 2014
      Nick Clegg pledges to speak "loudly, passionately and unequivocally" against "isolationists" at the launch of the Liberal Democrat campaign for the European elections.
    • Standard Life votes against Barclays April 24, 2014
      Standard Life Investments, a key institutional shareholder, votes against Barclays' plan to award higher bonuses to bankers despite a 30% fall in profits.
    • Teen makes 'largest' cancer donation April 24, 2014
      A cancer charity says it has received its largest ever individual donation after a teenager with terminal cancer raises more than £1.6m.
    • Seven injured in silo explosion April 24, 2014
      Seven people - including firefighters - are injured after a fire and explosion at an industrial estate in Moray.
    • Unison to ballot over 1% pay offer April 24, 2014
      Unison is to ballot local government workers and school staff in England for strikes after members rejected a 1% pay offer, the public sector union says.
    • Cornish granted UK minority status April 24, 2014
      Cornish people will be granted minority status under European rules for the protection of national minorities.
    • Madeleine 'clues' and Mark Shand death - papers April 24, 2014
      A police update in the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann and the death of the brother of the Duchess of Cornwall after a fall in New York attract headlines.
    • Treats in moderation make kids happy April 24, 2014
      Seven-year-olds are happier when they are allowed sweets, snacks and television in moderation, suggests a study of children's well-being.
    • Jamaica Inn ends as 2,200 complain April 24, 2014
      Complaints about sound problems on BBC costume drama Jamaica Inn jump to almost 2,200 as the final instalment is screened.
    • Martinez tips Moyes for rapid return April 24, 2014
      Everton boss Roberto Martinez backs predecessor David Moyes to make a quick return to management.
    • Rangers' finances fragile - Easdale April 24, 2014
      Rangers are in a "fragile" financial state and would not survive a second administration, a club shareholder tells BBC Scotland.
    • Wales ready to submit Euro 2020 bid April 24, 2014
      August's Uefa Super Cup can act as a platform for Cardiff's bid to be a Euro 2020 host city, says FAW chief Jonathan Ford.
    • Match-fixer arrested in Finland April 24, 2014
      Convicted football match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal is being held by Finnish police on an international arrest warrant, officials say.
  • RSS Reuters: Politics

    • Obama reaffirms commitment to Japan on tour of Asia allies April 24, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama assured ally Japan on Thursday that Washington was committed to its defense, including of tiny isles at the heart of a row with China, but denied he had drawn any new "red line" and urged peaceful dialogue over the islands.
    • Mississippi sets 20-week limit on abortions April 24, 2014
      (Reuters) - Mississippi will ban abortions after more than 20 weeks of pregnancy from July, joining other conservative U.S. states that have placed restrictions on the procedure.
    • Pentagon dossier to detail secretive U.S. Afghan detainee policy April 24, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of them have been locked up for a dozen years. Some are suspected fighters from Yemen, Russia or Pakistan, arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Several have been linked to al Qaeda.
    • Obama seeks to ease Asian allies' doubts during visit to Japan April 23, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will use a state visit to Japan on Thursday to try to reassure Tokyo and other Asian allies of his commitment to ramping up U.S. engagement in the region, despite Chinese complaints that Washington's real aim is to contain Beijing's rise.
    • Pentagon dossier to detail secretive U.S. Afghan detainee policy April 23, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of them have been locked up for a dozen years. Some are suspected fighters from Yemen, Russia or Pakistan, arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Several have been linked to al Qaeda.
    • Exclusive: White House considers former banking lawyer for Fed board - sources April 23, 2014
      NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former lawyer with the American Bankers Association is being considered by the White House as a possible nominee to the board of the Federal Reserve, according to sources familiar with the efforts
    • Vote delayed on loan guarantee for World Trade Center developer April 23, 2014
      NEW YORK (Reuters) - The board of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey on Wednesday delayed a scheduled vote on whether to provide $1.2 billion in loan guarantees to World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, the latest holdup for the project.
    • Democratic governors challenge Connecticut campaign finance law April 23, 2014
      (Reuters) - The U.S. Democratic Governors' Association on Wednesday sued the state of Connecticut, saying its laws on political spending are unconstitutionally broad and limit the ability of political groups to buy independent ads backing candidates.
    • Hagel begins first trip to Latin America as U.S. defense chief April 23, 2014
      ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday his first trip to Latin America as Pentagon chief would add "muscle and sinew" to growing North American defense ties and highlight the importance of helping partner nations improve their militaries.
    • Georgia governor signs gun carry rights expansion into law April 23, 2014
      ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a broad expansion of gun carry rights into law on Wednesday, allowing legal gun owners to take weapons into bars, churches and government buildings under certain conditions.
    • California lawmakers, bruised by scandal, turn to ethics training April 23, 2014
      SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California lawmakers, their reputation tarnished by fraud and corruption scandals, on Wednesday took a break from normal business to attend ethics training, the latest step by the state Senate to repair its image as elections loom.
    • U.S. Justice Department announces clemency review of drug offenders April 23, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department laid out new clemency guidelines on Wednesday that are expected to make thousands of drug offenders eligible for a reduction in the sentences they are currently serving.
    • U.S. steps up trade pressure on Japan ahead of Obama visit April 23, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States put last-minute pressure on Japan to compromise in tough trade talks on Wednesday, shortly before President Barack Obama was to arrive for a state visit.
    • California GOP hopeful wants free college for science, math students April 23, 2014
      BERKELEY, California (Reuters) - California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neel Kashkari called for free college tuition for students pursuing math and science degrees, part of an education reform plan released Tuesday that would also model public schools after charter schools.
    • California congressman woos Sriracha pepper sauce factory after odor complaints heat up April 23, 2014
      LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A U.S. congressman from a Los Angeles community is seeking to lure the factory that makes the bestselling Sriracha-brand hot pepper sauce to his district after residents in its current location complained about the smell.
    • New Jersey governor's press aide subpoenaed in 'Bridgegate' probe April 23, 2014
      (Reuters) - A New Jersey legislative panel investigating the "Bridgegate" traffic scandal subpoenaed the press spokesman to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and three other officials on Tuesday.
    • Asia tensions simmer as Obama set to arrive in Tokyo April 22, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in a tense Asian region on Wednesday, faced with the delicate task of assuring Japan and other regional allies of America's commitment to their defense without hurting Washington's vital ties with a rising China.
    • U.S. top court upholds Michigan ban on college affirmative action April 22, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday further undermined the use of racial preferences in higher education by upholding a voter-approved Michigan law that banned the practice in decisions on which students to admit to state universities.
    • Colorado lawmakers move to tighten edible marijuana laws April 22, 2014
      DENVER (Reuters) - Colorado lawmakers are moving to tighten laws governing the sale of marijuana-infused edibles, an issue that has gained attention following two deaths possibly linked to the ingestion of cannabis products, the measures' main sponsor said on Tuesday.
    • Florida Senator holds Miami Beach hearing on rising sea level April 22, 2014
      MIAMI BEACH (Reuters) - Climate change is already impacting south Florida coastal communities, which could see a three-foot rise in sea level by the end of the century, a panel of officials and scientists testified at a Senate hearing on Miami Beach on Tuesday.
  • RSS – Africa

    • Luxury shoes made in Ghana April 15, 2014
      Fred Deegbe was standing outside a shop window five years ago, marveling at the shiny pair of wing-tip Oxfords he'd just bought, when he started wondering whether such beautiful designer shoes could ever be produced in his country, Ghana.
    • Meet Nigeria's 'Mark Zuckerberg' April 3, 2014
      At 23, many people around the world are still at university -- at that age, Gossy Ukanwoke had already started one.
    • Why we need more geek girls April 3, 2014
      "It was like taking a big leap of faith."
    • 'Uncle Ebo' revives Ghanaian theater April 15, 2014
      African Voices meets James Ebo Whyte a passionate storyteller with a series of successful plays to his credit.
    • How medics saved lives at Westgate April 9, 2014
      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
    • Embracing Ghana's natural beauty April 1, 2014
      She started her business with just £100, lugging her beauty bag from door to door, but some 25 years later Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
    • Africa's most endangered April 16, 2014
      Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened. Find out more about its most endangered animals.
    • Secrets of 'gorilla whisperer' March 25, 2014
      Zain Verjee visits Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park -- the home of half of the world's endangered mountain gorilla population.
    • Savannah from the sky March 13, 2014
      It's almost impossible for a photographer to find fresh visual perspectives these days. Brooklyn-based Zack Seckler had to travel to a different continent and strap into an ultra-light aircraft to find one. His Botswana series presents the country from between 50 and 500 feet, providing a unique and captivating view of the savannah.
    • Why the abduction isn't shocking April 22, 2014
      No one knows where 77 abducted girls in Nigeria are -- and surprising still, no one's particularly shocked.
    • Slum dweller means business April 22, 2014
      Most success-hungry entrepreneurs would tell you there's not enough hours in the day -- try saying that to Buken Makokha.
    • Human viruses killing last gorillas? April 22, 2014
      They are the world's largest primates and yet the constant threat of illegal poaching, deforestation and now human diseases mean that soon the world's mountain gorillas could be completely wiped out. Meet the woman trying to fix the situation before it's too late.
    • Is this the new Oprah? April 18, 2014
      Meet Mo Abudu: 'Africa's Oprah Winfrey.' The glamorous 49-year-old is conquering the continent one media empire at a time.
    • Ancient tribe living in the past April 18, 2014
      The Hadza are one of the oldest people on earth. Today, they battle for land, and continued survival.
    • Web dismantles stereotypes April 21, 2014
      The new Web series "An African City" is fun, trendy and over the top.
    • Why you should fear Boko Haram April 17, 2014
      Boko Haram's lethality is indisputable.
    • You gotta try South African BBQ April 17, 2014
      Grilled zebra anyone? Peri-peri warthog? This is how to barbecue, South Africa style.
    • Inside an Ebola isolation ward April 16, 2014
      Dr. Sanjay Gupta goes into an ebola clinic to find out what life is like for the patients inside.
    • Rating Pistorius's defense April 16, 2014
      After five days of intense cross-examination, has Olympian Oscar Pistorius helped or harmed his defense that he did not intentionally kill his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkam?
    • Pop art condoms saving lives April 15, 2014
      The Center for African Family Studies in Nairobi has teamed up with Kenyan artist Michael Soi to create eye-catching condom wrappers to promote safe sex and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among young people.
  • Country Stats

    free counters

Somali women parliamentarians – the predicament of finding a voice

Posted by African Press International on May 15, 2013

  •   By Farhia Ali Abdi.

 “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” Nelson Mandela.

Parliamentary democracy is described as a political system based on the idea that parliament is supreme or “sovereign”. This means that parliamentary democracy is one in which the people choose representatives at regular elections and are responsible for the following:  the formation of  government, the passage of legislation by majority vote of the parliament, the scrutiny and monitoring of the executive government and the public service and other authorities and institutions created by parliament. Most importantly, this scrutiny extends to monitoring the expenditure of public money.

The general belief is that Somalia has never had a free parliamentarian election; in fact Somalia did have its first and the last civilian parliamentary public election in 1960 following the country’s independence. Somali Youth League (SYL) won the majority of the seats by 69 of the 123 seats.






Somali Youth League





Somali National Congress





Somali Democratic Union





Somali Independent Constitutional Party





United Somali Party





Giovani S Partito Liberale





Somali National League





Somali African National Union





Other parties










Source: Nohlen et al.







Current Somalia Parliament:

Inaugurated in August 2012, the Federal Parliament of Somalia and in particular its Lower House composed of 275 clan-based representatives included only fourteen percent (14%) female parliamentarians ended the Transitional Road Map. In September, the same year, Parliament elected a new President of Somalia and adopted the Somali Provisional Constitution. On October 2012, the President nominated the new Prime Minister and in November 2012, Parliament formally endorsed the Council of Ministers as selected by the Prime Minister. Understandably the country has undertaken a historical process of change and has moved forward towards peace and stability after decades of violent conflict that ravaged the country and resulted in widespread suffering to its people. Rebuilding Somalia’s withered institutions with a stable government and a parliament representing the will of its citizens will take a lot more effort and strength, and it is the key to building the country into a peaceful and prosperous nation.

The Voice of Somali Women

“I don’t mind being a symbol, but I don’t want to become a monument. There are monuments all over the Parliament Buildings, and I’ve seen what the pigeons do to them” Tommy Douglas.

As mentioned above, Somali women’s hold about 14% of the seats in parliament is an achievement and does represent progress, compared to the country’s past regimes; civilian or military administrations alike. However, the failure in 2012 to meet the stated commitment on 30% reserved seats for women in the Federal Parliament was largely due to the lack of agreement between the clans which govern the country to allocate an adequate number of seats to female representation. Putting the faith of women in the hands of elderly men in a patriarchal society was misguided ideology. Nevertheless, some regions fared better than others, i.e. Puntland, which is one of the largest regions in the country in terms of land and population, only returned two existed seats occupied by female parliamentarians to the Parliament and failed to fulfil the new 30% seats allocated for women pledge; providing a glimpse into the depth of culturally embedded gender inferiority and biases in the country.

Somali women are not, however, unaccustomed to the idea of pursuing equality. They started the women’s movement during the 40s and 50s, against all odds, to become the beacon of Somali’s hope for independence from the British and Italians. If there is one thing that all generations of Somali women share, it is the desire to keep their country together. They have put this notion of  “country” at the forefront, even at the expense of their own gender equality aspirations, whether they are fighting for freedom from colonization or picking up the pieces in the aftermath of civil war. It was women, for example, in the country’s countless peace accords, noticeably in Arta, Djibouti in 2000, who challenged the delegates to think beyond clan boundaries in drafting a resolution to end the deadlock of indecisiveness.

In the more recent Parliamentary elections, women’s networks within the country and the diaspora took a stand and campaigned and advocated for greater women’s involvement in the political arena and the protection of their human rights. This outpouring of support and advocacy from women inside and out of the country was focused on achieving adequate representation of women in the national recovery process and to obtain political rights in order to gain positions, both in the government and in the parliament. Despite, these strong efforts, the engagement of the current women members of parliament  remains very low and very disappointing, particularly in their silence on the issues of widespread and epidemic sexual violence in the country. While the country and the international community were outraged by the deplorable action of the rape and the arrest of Somali woman and the reporter who accused government soldiers of rape, the women MPs remained quiet.

For the underlining causes of their silence, one can hypothesize that Somali women MPs are perhaps, intimidated by structural obstacles that may be looming behind the male-dominated parliament. Perhaps they are inexperienced and ill-equipped in dealing with the nation’s affairs; or maybe they don’t know what their specific roles and responsibilities are; or conceivably, the media ignores their place and doesn’t draw any attention to the voice of women and their agenda, effectively keeping “women’s” issues from the public eye?

Whatever the causes; these are questions percolating in the minds of all the Somali women who have fought, or have observed the fight, for women’s rights to be productive members of parliament. These women deserve adequate representation and to hear the voices from their members of parliament. Parliaments are not gender-neutral institutions; they have their own cultural norms and rules and there is no illusion that women’s increased representation in parliament will necessarily lead to a quick fix or change; however, for any changes to occur it will require on the part of the women MPs a great deal of effort and time. 

Suggestion for women MPs to move forward:

In this context, increased women’s involvement in Somali political institutions is crucial. Women constitute over 50 percent of the Somali population, and they should be proportionally represented in all legislatures and decision-making bodies. The general belief is that women’s presence in parliament will broaden priorities on the political agenda to include a range of previously important, but unconsidered issues. For Somali women MPs, it’s paramount that the issues of childcare, women’s health, sexual and physical violence against women, gender discrimination, and women’s education, to name but a few, are given far greater prominence. The current Minister for Human Development & Public Services in the Federal Republic of Somalia, Dr. Maryan Qasim gave an interview to IRIN news in 2000; then as a new Member of Parliament and was asked if there are women issues, they (women MPs) would focus on specifically. She responded as follows: “Yes, there are certain issues we would like to focus on – women’s issues, if you would like to call them that. First of all, we would like to strengthen the role of women to the government. Secondly, we would like to draw attention to those issues which affect women and children, such as health care and income generation for women. We would like to address women’s education and schools catering for the education of women and girls. And we want to make sure that women realize that this is their government, not one just for men”.

These are the issues (and there are many more) that are shared by most Somali women. Both the women MPs, and the female Cabinet Ministers, including the author of the above quote have a common responsibility to address all areas relevant to the promotion of gen­der equality and the empowerment of women. Women MPs need to continuously enhance and push forward a Somali women’s political agenda by:

  1. Identifying opportunities to develop equita­ble legislation and gender-sensitive programs that are conducive to change.
  2. Increasing the visibility and influence of women MPs
  3. Establishing a formal mechanism or committee structure through which women MPs can meet and present its work and recommendations to the government.
  4. Advocating the principle of equality and gender sensitivity within the government
  5. Creating comprehensive strategies to develop sustainable programs on women’s issues, and in particular, a strategy to remedy the current gender imbalance in political participation and representation in parliamentary seats.

Somalia government and support for women’s capacity building.

  1. Government has to assist in building women’s confidence and to strengthen their capacity to fulfil their mandates appropriately; which is a crucial ingredient for both government and society at large.
  2. Government has to facilitate an environment in which women feel comfortable to exchange information and to bring forward proposed legislative changes fairly and freely.
  3. Government needs to assist women legislators in addressing specific national gender priorities and to provide all the necessary assistance required to achieve this objective.
  4. Government has to support women parliamentarians by establishing an alliance between women and men in favor of gender equality, thus avoiding the marginalization of gender issues.

Researchers have confirmed, time and time again, that there are differences in gender styles between men and women with respect to leadership and conflict resolution. Women tend to be more participatory and tend to work in a less hierarchical and more collaborative manner than their male counterparts. Somalia’s road to justice and sustainable development cannot be paved with a half measured; it requires sound investments and a resolute commitment to equal liberty, and good governance.

Somali women parliamentarians today, and hopefully more so in the future, have an opportunity to guide the country towards a right and just direction that will benefit all citizens; a direction that will not be buckled down with tired cultural segregation and subordination. Somali women MPs need to speak up and make their voices heard. Lofty ambitions, good intentions and nice words will not produce a progressive Somali society. A gender-balanced approach to politics is required; one that will truly protect Somalia’s future, anything less than that will only amount to a democratic deficit.



About these ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,235 other followers

%d bloggers like this: