Somaliland: Despite Presidential Efforts Gender Inequality Persists


As UNDP reports that disfranchising women costs Sub Saharan Africa a whooping $95billions annually

Women are majority of voters in Somaliland

By:Yusuf M Hasan

Somaliland sun – Gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa on average $US95 billion a year, peaking at US$105 billion in 2014– or six percent of the region’s GDP, thus jeopardizing the continent’s efforts for inclusive human development and economic growth, according to the Africa Human Development Report 2016.
The report analyses the political, economic and social drivers that hamper African women’s advancement and proposes policies and concrete actions to close the gender gap. These include addressing the contradiction between legal provisions and practice in gender laws; breaking down harmful social norms and transforming discriminatory institutional settings; and securing women’s economic, social and political participation..
In somaliland where traditional norms confine women to the Kitchen while religious tenets deny them a public leadership life, the situation is even worse, as amplified by Baar Saeed the only female elected legislator out of the 164 members parliament ( Guurti-82 and House of representatives-82)
African women achieve only 87 percent of the human development outcomes of men
African women hold 66 percent of the all jobs in the non-agricultural informal sector and only make 70 cents for each dollar made by men Only between 7 and 30 percent of all private firms have a female manager
Gender gap costs sub-Sahara Africa $US95 billion a year

Female driver in Hargeisa/ Photo courtesy of Bogorada Somaliland While women drivers are a regular feature as opposed to countries like Saudi Arabia where a female is legally Required to tow a male guardian in public the battle for equality is an uphill task especially in the male dominated legislature where a bill by president Silanyo granting women a quota based representation in parliament and local councils has been denied approval on several occasions.
While president Ahmed Mahmud has been persistent in a quest to ante gender and minority clans inequality, Legislators in the House of Representatives dealt the move a big blow after they voted against amendment to election law #20 during the opening day of its 19th session in September 2012.
According to president Silanyo’s draft law that members of parliament seem to have been not only afraid of approving but debating as well, women and minority clans would have been allocated a number of nominated seats in local councils and to both Guurti-elders and House of representatives-MPs, the two houses of parliament respectively.
Guurti elders never got a chance to air their views on the issue since the bill failed to muster approval in the lower chamber as is the rule
If amended to sections 5 and 6 of the draft election law had gone through thence legalizing women access to political office through a quota system at local and national levels then nominated women representatives would have been established as below
Section 5:

1. Share of Women in Local councils by grade

I. Local councils- Grade A 4 members

II. Local councils-Grade B 3 members

III. Local councils- Grade C 2 members

IV. Local councils –Grade D 1 member
With seven local councils graded A, 3 Bs, 11 Cs and 17 Ds  the  total number of assured seats for women would have been 83.
In the 2012 Somaliland local council elections which had the largest female candidacy ever, numbering 149 of the total 2 368 candidates competing for 379 positions, only three were elected

President addresses joint session of the Somaliland parliament 2. Share of women in Parliament’s House of Representatives through nomination would have been 10% distributed regionally as follows:

I. Maroodi Jeeh region 2 MPs

ii. Togdheer region 2 MPs

iii. Awdal region 1 MP

iv. Sanaag region 1 MP

V. Sahil Region 1 MP

vi. Sool region 1 MP
In the one and only parliamentary election in Somaliland held in 2005 two women, one each from Sanaag and Awdal regions were elected legislators, currently only one MP Baar Saaed representing Sanaag remains after her Awdal colleague Lady Ikran Haji Daud was deregistered in September 2012 for allegedly missing 20 consecutive sittings.
Hon Baar Saeed one of the two members of the women parliamentarians association revealed that the rejection of the amendment by her fellow legislators was a public declaration disapproval fort the relentless campaign for inclusion of women in the decision making process.

“I once again appeal to my honourable colleagues to reconsider their decision and approve the women quota amendment,” said Hon Baar Saeed said after the gender based quota bill was defeated

MP Baar Saaed at her female lonely perch at the Somaliland parliament The law rejected by legislators was submitted to parliament by president Silanyo after a committee, he the president, had appointed collected views all over the country. According to the committee’s report, which was the basis for the draft law a majority of Somalilanders, were pro availing women and minority clans nominated seats.
Despite the denial by legislators President Silanyo has endeavored to establish some semblance of gender parity in his administration that has 2 females holding the portfolios of Fiancee and environment namely Zamzam Abdi Aden and Shukri Haji Bandare .
A couple others hold deputy minister positions While the office of Director General at the presidency minister has also for the first time been appointed a woman.
For Somaliland This might seem very meager percentages compared to other countries for example Rwanda which has the highest proportion of women in parliament worldwide, and Comoros, which has one woman MP out 33.
L -R Somaliland environment minister Shukri Bandare and Finance colleague. Zamzam Abdi Aden. at work But in comparison to the Nigerian parliament where In the 2011 general elections only 32 women were elected out of 469 members, which is barely 8% representation in Somaliland where cultural norms confine women to the kitchen having even one female MP is a milestone.
Even though Negative social institutions and norms create a stumbling block for advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment how much does this huge decision making gender disparity cost Somaliland in terms of social Development and poverty alleviation
According to the UNDPs Helen Clark “If gender gaps can be closed in labor markets, education, health and other areas, then poverty and hunger eradication can be achieved,”
For somaliland where the male dominated parliament does not only deny women, gender parity shall remain a dream unless the illegal membership now in its 11 year is ended thus election of a new crop of legislators in tandem with the President Silanyo vision that might remove the country from the Gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa on average $US95 a year, according to the Africa Human Development Report 2016.

Councillor Qamar Taleeh of the Erigavo local governentWoman driver Photo courtesy of Bogorada Somaliland via Facebook