After years of hard work, Leila Hassan graduated at the top of her class in Information Technology in Bosaso. As her family’s first female graduate, Leila was optimistic when she applied for a position in a local company that recruited only top students. The company selected her male classmate. Leila was overlooked because of her gender.
Undeterred by the setback, Leila applied for a position in an international organisation working in Somalia, where her expertise is now being utilized. Leila’s story of being passed over is typical among female graduates.
In an environment where referral from friends and employees is a common basis for employment, female graduates have an uphill struggle to compete for scarce job opportunities. The Iftin Foundation, supported by the Stability Fund, is working to give female graduates a fair opportunity and remove the obstacles that hinder their access to the professional job market.
Launched on 13th May 2015, Fursad (‘opportunity’), fosters the employment of Somali women in the private sector by supporting their transition from university to work. Fursad is a platform that connects candidates directly with employers. The platform assists employers by simplifying the headhunting process for full time placements and internships.
Since its launch, over 200 female graduates have registered on the Fursad website and more than 30 graduates have been recruited in the banking, insurance, education, healthcare, and publishing industries.
Amina Osman, a 24 year old graduate, was hired by as a marketing intern at SomPrint, a local marketing company. In a recent interview, she discussed how well she is adjusting, “I am learning a lot, interacting with colleagues and building new professional relationships.” Amina like many other graduates in Somalia had previously struggled to find employment.
Iftin Foundation, working in partnership with the Somali Chamber of Commerce, the Puntland Chamber of Commerce, members of the Somali Research and Education Network and universities, is addressing the challenges faced by female graduates. It provides career training, resume-building, interview training, and mentorship to female graduates. Through its networking events in Mogadishu, Garowe, Bosaso, and Galkacyo, Iftin is working very hard to change attitudes.
Iftin’s Nasra Osman hopes to leave a lasting impact on women’s participation in the workforce. ‘We are happy to have opened the debate and campaign on this important issue that will not only provide jobs to professional women, but also encourage more women’s participation.’ Iftin is holding more networking events in Kismayo, Beletweyne, and Baidoa and is determined to use its upcoming careers fairs in Mogadishu and Bosaso to consolidate its achievements.
Find out more about FURSAD by following @SomWomenGrads on Twitter.