Somaliland: Women Demand Share of Political Seats


Women participants said parliament mus act & act nowBy: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – Parliament has been asked to ensure articles 8 and 36 of the Somaliland constitution are adhered to.

This was asked of the legislators during a women empowerment meeting organized by NAGAAD umbrella organization in Hargeisa where the women further told the legislators that constitutional rights were not for request.

According to Ms Kaltun sheikh Hasan Abdi, the Chairperson of the Women umbrella organization of NAGAAD articles 8 and 36 of the constitution stipulate that all Somaliland citizens are equal in the eyes of the law.

Ms Kaltun who castigated the male dominated parliament for refusal to legalize the apportioning of a specified number of political seats on nomination basis to women, said that the political discrimination game is at an end, “the rights of Somaliland women will never again be trampled upon”

Participants at the meeting who concurred with the NAGAAD chairperson included representatives of women groups nationwide, Somaliland national Youth Organization-SONYO members, Traditional/Political & Religious leaders, and Presidential advisor on women affairs Ms Amal Haji Misaan as well as hundreds of women.

The meeting that came as a result of last week’s dilly dallying by members of parliament’s house of representative on a president Silanyo submitted law that is geared towards creating gender parity in the political arena by availing women and members of minority clans a specific number of nominated seats in local councils and both the houses of parliament.

Members of the House of Representatives raised the ire of Somaliland women earlier in the week after lackluster debate on the law and subsequent demand for redrafting thus return to the house’s committee on internal affairs.

The NAGAAD chair informed the legislators that if they do not approve of election law 20 that allows women to acquire political office on nomination basis, thongs will not be business as usual.

While concluding her speech Ms Kaltun told legislators that the women at the meeting who represented all women in the country were congregated in Hargeisa, not to make speeches then go back to business as usual but to see to it that their constitutional demands were met thus a sizeable number of their own in not only forthcoming local councils but parliament as well.

Other speakers who included the presidential advisor on women affairs, political/traditional and religious leaders all concurred to the fact that time is now ripe for women to fully participate at all levels of decision making in the country.

The women’s quest for rights was given a big boost by SONYO after the organizations chairperson Mr. Ahmed Abdi Wa’is informed the meeting that the country’s youth will stand shoulder to shoulder with their mothers and sisters in their struggle.

The law in contention between women and 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.

According to president Silanyo’s draft law that members of parliament seem to be afraid of not only approving but debating as well, women and minority clans are to be allocated a number of nominated seats from local councils to Guurti-elders and House of representatives-MPs, the two houses of parliament respectively. The Guurti elders are yet to act on the draft as it is still in the lower house.

The objectives of the women and minority clans nominated seats election law #20 which legalized gender equality in political life and the decision making process will if approved see to it that women and minority clans are not only allocated 10% of candidacy by each political party but are subsequently availed automatic nominated seats as detailed by section 5 and 6 of the draft law in contention as follows:

Section 5:

1. Share of Women in Local councils by grade

I. Local councils- Grade A+ 4 members

II. Local councils-Grade A 3 members

III. Local councils- Grade B 2 members

IV. Local councils –Grade C 1 member

2. Share of women in Parliament’s house of representatives through nomination will be 10% to be 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

3. Share of women in Parliament’s House of Representatives through nomination will be 10% to be distributed regionally similarly to the house of representative.

While this might seem very meager percentages compared to other developed or developing countries attainment in Somaliland will be a milestone.