The Somali way of talking about ‘Gender’ in Somalia

When talking about gender in Somalia, always;

  • Send a Somali motherly figure; she must be all covered
  • Never send a non-Somali to speak about gender in Somalia
  • Be very Informal
  • Start with an opening prayer
  • You must say who you are
  • You must say who your father is/was
  • You must say who your grandfather was
  • As there is no word in Gender in Somali, you must be prepared to tell a long story
  • Use a visual language, draw on the board, visualize everything you are doing in pictures/diagrams
  • Do not carry a pen the whole time, people become too suspicious, be oral too
  • Do not carry a camera, if you do, explain why, for who
  • Do not write things down when people are talking, they will shut down
  • Do not mention ‘equality’ stick to equity, explain in Arabic words
  • Do not talk of MAINstreaming, talk of integration, harmonization. Why should we make gender the MAIN thing above all others?
  • You must provide tea to drink, lots of it
  • Use quotes from the women from the hadith, and the sunnah on women in leadership
  • As gender is synonymous with NGO, if asked which NGO you represent tell them you are carrying the voice of the Somali woman
  • Explain gender in Somali socio-cultural contexts, dont mention how others are doing it/did it
  • Give concrete examples of what you want to achieve by involving everyone
  • Don’t speak directly to the people, speak of others, others are doing it wrong
  • Read some Somali proverbs, poems about/by Somali women, ask the people to do this
  • Do not be defensive
  • Do not mention Araweelo
  • When addressing injustices say always ‘I am talking about your mother, your wife, your sister, your daughter’
  • be casual, full of humor, make jokes the whole time through about old traditional people/systems and their (wrong) way of doing things
  • Do not, at all, at any point, talk badly about the religion
  • Make sure people don’t leave behind the handouts you just distributed
  • End with a prayer and bless everyone’s soul
  • Be prepared for a long lecture, you too must be educated on something
  • Be polite and listen patiently and respectfully.

………and there are many more. Will keep them for next time. 🙂

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