Mogadishu – United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed undertook a visit to Somalia today in solidarity with Somali women’s calls for full and equal participation in political life, and to express the support of the international community for timely, inclusive, peaceful and credible elections.
The Deputy Secretary-General highlighted the country’s parliamentary elections as an opportunity to build on the progress made in women’s political participation and emphasized that women’s full inclusion in all sectors of society will contribute to greater resilience, peace, and stability.
“Somalia achieved a milestone at its last elections in 2016/17 with 24 per cent of parliamentary seats filled by women, and I am hopeful that the country will build on this by expanding women’s participation even further – ensuring the 30 per cent quota is met is an important first step to full representation and an inclusive society. The peace dividend will not happen without women,” Ms. Mohammed said.
While in Mogadishu, the Deputy Secretary-General met with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo.’ She also met with Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and the National Consultative Council (NCC), whose membership includes the leaders of the country’s Federal Member States and which is charged with providing overall direction for the elections.
“Prime Minister Roble and other members of the NCC have shown great leadership and commitment to advance women’s political participation, including through specific measures such as decreasing fees for women candidates and appointing Goodwill Ambassadors and Champions to advocate for greater inclusion. It will also be important to agree on a specific mechanism on how exactly the commitment of a minimum 30 per cent quota will be achieved in the upcoming elections,” the Deputy Secretary-General said.
Ms. Mohammed met with Somali elders as well as women leaders and advocates from a range of areas – electoral management bodies, goodwill ambassadors, champions and civil society leaders – and expressed her solidarity with their efforts to bring about greater involvement of women in the country’s political sphere as well as in economic life.
She noted the concerns voiced on the overall situation of Somali women, including levels of violence and insecurity for women, and how this also impacts participation in political life.
“Women should be able to participate in the elections without fear of violence, intimidation and discrimination,” Ms. Mohammed said. “But the same also applies in going about daily life, whether in education, commerce or social life.”
When asked about the case of government agent Ms. Ikran Tahlil Farah, the Deputy Secretary-General said the rule of law and access to justice are critical to protection from violence and are the right of all women.
On the elections and recent political tensions she noted, “Somalia has achieved considerable momentum with its electoral process, and I was encouraged to hear the commitment from all I met with to ensuring that this momentum is sustained and that critical elections move forward as scheduled.”
The Deputy Secretary-General further noted that political discord should not be allowed to threaten gains made in the country.
“I have confidence in Somalia’s leadership to de-escalate any tensions and avoid action that could lead to violence and further delay the elections or undermine its credibility,” she added.
Currently, Somalia is holding elections for its Upper House, and is preparing for elections for its Lower House, known as the House of the People. The United Nations and Somalia’s other international partners have been heavily engaged in supporting national efforts to advance the country’s elections.