Strengthening Somali Women’s Leadership

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Imagine if women in Somalia took up key roles in leadership and nation building. Imagine a world where they make global headlines for their contribution to Somalia’s peace and prosperity. Imagine a world where they drive the political, social and economic advancement of their country.

Now imagine what it would take. A politician? Parliamentarians? Scholars? Community leaders?  Activists?  All of these will have an important role in enabling Somali women to contribute to the rebuilding of their nation. Shukria Dini, the Executive Director of Somali Women Studies Center (SWSC) argues that “empowering Somali women is a high priority for Somalia and is vital to any efforts intended to build peace, security and sustainable development in Somalia.”  Dini asserts that investing in Somali women is not only a collective responsibility, it is simply the smart thing to do. There will be no peace and recovery in Somalia without the active involvement and leadership of women.

SWSC was created in 2011 to serve Somali women through research, advocacy and capacity-building. SWSC later partnered with the Stability Fund to work on women’s empowerment. On 1st June 2015, selected facilitators were trained and equipped with leadership training manuals. Women’s organizations from different sectors and regions were mobilised to publicise the training, ensuring women from a diverse range of backgrounds participated. To date, SWSC has trained a total of 761 women from Mogadishu, Jowhar, Kismayo, Baydhabo and Beletweyne.  Up to 300 more women are scheduled for training in Dhusamareb, Abudwak, and Adado.

A participant noted that “through SWSC’s leadership training, we learned a number of useful skills including how to do advocacy, influencing policies, public speaking and resource mobilisation.  With the skills and knowledge received from the training we will see more participation and representation in public institutions.”

SWSC has also launched a scholarship program for young disadvantaged women to pursue higher education. SWSC received over 150 applications from Banadir, Hiiran, South West State, Jubbaland and Galmudug regions from which around 20 young women will be selected.

SWSC has also partnered with seven women’s organizations to promote women’s leadership, agency, and representation in formal decision-making processes. Its partner HORSEED, was involved in promoting the participation of women in the Galmudug state formation process.