This gender analysis study of Somalia was conducted by Sahra Ahmed Koshin between October and November 2016 with the aim of providing a foundation for the implementation in Somalia and Somaliland of the EU “Gender Action Plan Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020 (GAP II)”. The programme has been formally adopted by the Council in October 2015 and provides the framework for the European Commission’s (EC), the European External Action Services’ (EEAS) and European Member States’ approach to gender equality through external relations for the period 2016-20.
The study was carried out in 5 locations in Somalia and elaborate consultations were made with the Somalia European Union Delegation office as well as with EU member states and implementing partners in Nairobi. To collect key data, qualitative inquiries were carried out using a variety of instruments including extensive review of literature, a public survey of 534 respondents, focus group discussions at five locations (Mogadishu, Baidoa, Kismayo, Hargeisa and Garowe) and interviews with 21 key informants drawn from a wide range of organizations and professional background.
The key results of the study are summarized below:
i. Gender inequality persists in Somalia and has many causes, key among these are tradition and culture which define community acceptable roles for men and women. These roles take root early in life, starting from the family setting and extending to the neighbourhood and the larger community.
ii. Because of gender inequality, women are not able to access fully the benefit of development including such benefits like education, health, employment.
iii. There are many laws and legislations drawn to address gender inequality but many of these have not been passed or are not enforced. Sex and gender-based violence
continue to be tolerated and the rights of girls and women continue to be violated. In some cases, there are laws that discriminate against girl and women. Despite these challenges, many opportunities exist to address gender inequality.
iv. Few women are in influential positions politically and economically and women have limited representation in decision making even on that affects their lives.
v. At the local level, there is limited awareness and understanding of the magnitude
of the gender inequality problem. Organizations that are engaged in promoting
gender equality are seen to be working for foreign interests.
vi. The successful model woman is seen as one that has been successful in taking care of the home. Women who fight for women rights and aspire to go beyond the home maker role are seen to oppose men and to be going against the culture and religion.
vii. The contribution of women in the development of the Somali society takes place behind the scene and is not is not document. This lack of full participation of women has in development robs the Somali society of the valuable contribution of women in development and leads to political, social and economic losses.
viii. Although gender inequality poses such a big challenge to the Somali women, the efforts they make to address this problem are largely uncoordinated. Similarly, women rarely support each other when such opportunities arise. Women are therefore in some cases, their own enemies.
ix. The absence of female leadership in the education sector has greatly contributed to the absence of female students in school as well as their performance. This situation has led to lower performance of women in education and subsequently lower participation of women in social, politics and economic spheres.
Building on the conclusions draw by this study, a number of recommendations are made to the various stakeholders currently involved in the common cause of women’s
empowerment and gender equality in Somalia.
Recommendations to the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal State Members
The federal government of Somali and federal state government should:
i. Make efforts at aligning the National Gender Policy and the nine gender equality and women empowerment targets identified by the National Development Plan (2017-2019) with the GAP II.
ii. Support close involvement of the Ministry of Planning and International
Cooperation (MoPIC) on the successful implementation, monitoring and evaluation of GAP II initiatives.
iii. Support efforts towards harmonising the Federal National Gender Policy with the Regional Gender Policies.
iv. Support aggregation of gender equality efforts and also invest and support for research and studies on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE) in Somalia through the National Gender Policy. This will address the fragmentation in
the work being done by various actors towards achieving gender equality.
v. Create awareness on EU GAP II throughout Somalia and identify, engage and work closely with gender champions throughout to move forward GEWE agenda and work in the country.
vi. Identify, engage and work closely with gender champions throughout Somalia to move forward GEWE agenda and work in the country.
vii. Undertake training and capacity building to change attitudes and beliefs that cause inconsistent application of laws; deal more forcefully with domestic violence, address FGM rendering it illegal and punishable, and amend provisions that prevent rapists from being charged should they marry their victims; among others. This can be achieved through support for the passing of the Anti-FGM and the Sexual Offenses Bill as well as through support for ongoing EU projects on
Recommendations to research institutions
Research and other knowledge institutions should:
viii. Carry out systematic research to fill the many knowledge gaps that exists on women empowerment and gender analysis. The findings of this study provide the starting point for new research.
ix. Develop tools that will enhance policy makers’ understanding of the needs of men and women and in transforming and strengthening the impact of gender equality in Somalia.
x. Play a key role in collecting, aggregating and availing all data, information and knowledge on women empowerment and gender equality through knowledge portals and repositories.
Recommendations to Somali women
Somali women should:
i. Continue to use all available international instruments in and outside of Somalia to fast track strategy to address women exclusion, transform gender power relations and actively involved women in social movements and activism.
ii. Not accept gender inequality as a “fact of life” but instead seek equality and lobby for gender equality analysis to be used as a tool, approach and methodology for social, political and economic change in Somalia.
iii. Come together and work closely together across geographic divides to coordinate their gender equality efforts and giving each other the necessary support. They should be role models to younger Somali women who don’t have experience yet and give them opportunity to develop themselves and be confidence.
Recommendations to the European Union and Donors
The Somali European Union delegation should:
i. Create awareness about GAP II in Somalia. For a wider reach, the GAP II should be translated into Somali language and printed for wide distribution among Somali institutions. For the general public, a popular annotated version of GAP II should be
compiled giving only key information and distributed to the public.
ii. Harmonize GAP II priorities with those of the Somali National Development Plan (NDP). The delegation should also harmonize its GAP II focus areas (selected from among GAP II objectives) with the NDP.
iii. Conduct sustained community dialogues aimed at transforming identified negative social norms on women and gender issues through gender transformative approaches. Specifically, the EU should target elderly and influential women who tend to justify traditional gender roles, relations and responsibilities. Similarly, EU
should support effort to remove misconception that the roles assigned to women based on traditional and cultural beliefs have a religious foundation.
iv. Provide support to the government and implementing partners in developing and adoption of strategies, policies and legislations aim at creating awareness about GEWE. However, these tools need to go hand in hand with lobbying and advocacy
to create awareness and educate Somali men and women about their rights.
v. Support the involvement of women in education sector and especially in the early childhood education. Through its education program, EU should support strategies and programs that will increase female students in school and improve their overall performance.
Recommendations to implementing organisations
The EU implementing partners (and other implementing partners) should:
i. Organise GAP II information and sensitization sessions for the government stakeholders that work on gender issues in Somalia, including the Ministry of Gender & Human Rights Development, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC) and the concerned ministries and institutions in Somaliland.
ii. Work closely with respective civil society actors through a multi sector effort to end violence against women. Possible areas of action can include policy advocacy and dialogue to encourage revision of laws to ensure gender equality and nondiscrimination.
iii. In collaboration with the relevant government institutions, undertake training and capacity building to change attitudes and beliefs that cause inconsistent application of laws; support effort to deal more forcefully with domestic violence, address FGM by supporting efforts to render it illegal and punishable, and support amendment of provisions that prevent rapists from being charged should they marry their victims; among others.
iv. Support line ministries and other national institutions, along with Civil Society Organizations to increase the number of secure shelters for abused women and children and supply trained staff in these facilities and support other related needs.
Recommendations to the media
The media should:
i. Support policy dialogue and advocacy with government and non-government organisations through talk shows and strategic adverts.
ii. Produce and air quality shows, features and programs on gender equality and women empowerment
iii. Organise information/sensitization sessions about the GAP II in Somalia.
Read the full report here