Somali women have resolved to forge a united path on enhanced role in peace and reconciliation efforts in the Horn of Africa nation.
The women’s organizations in a joint statement issued on Saturday by the UN mission in Somalia also resolved to strengthen the fight against violent extremism which is impacting ongoing peace efforts.
This, they said, is in line with the national priorities set out in the country’s National Development Plan for 2017-2021, and in the national reconciliation processes launched by the Somali government.
The Somali National Women’s Organization (SNWO) was the main organizer of the two-day nationwide “peace forums” on enhanced women’s roles in peace efforts, held simultaneously in the five administrative capitals of the Federal Member States of South West, Jubbaland, Puntland, HirShabelle and Galmudug states.
One of the facilitators in Baidoa, Udbi Omar Ali, stressed that women were unanimous in wanting to play a more visible role in fighting violent extremism.
“We agreed to unite against extremist ideologies; that women should pay attention to all activities happening in their households, to prevent their children from getting sucked into extremism,” she said.
“At the civil society level, at the security sector level, as women, we should have a network, a channel of communication to get to know each other, so that we can work towards peace and reconciliation,” Ali added.
The main aim of the forums was to consult wide-range of women stakeholders – peace advocates, activists and practitioners – to determine ways and strategies to improve women’s role in promoting peace and prevent violent extremism in the country.
Participants across the five states discussed women’s empowerment and strategies that would enhance their participation in peace, security and reconciliation efforts.
They also deliberated on ways to help preventing and countering violent extremism, in order to complement government efforts to de-radicalize youth.
“Our aim is to encourage the women to pass what they learnt here to their families, their villages, their districts and divisions; and educate them on the effects of violent extremism so as to achieve total peace in the country,” Madino Mohamed, the deputy chairperson of the SNWO, said at the meeting held in the southern city of Kismayo, the administrative capital of Jubbaland.
The women said the longer-term aim of the consultations is to enhance women’s roles in peace and reconciliation processes, in line with the national priorities set out in the country’s National Development Plan for 2017-2021, and in the national reconciliation processes launched by the Federal Government of Somalia.
In Kismayo, Badran Muhumed Abdulle, the chairperson of the Jubbaland Women’s Organization, said the forum had given women the impetus to actively participate in reconciliation and peace-building activities.
“If there is no peace there will be no progress. Peace is the only thing that can bring development to Somalia,” said Abdulle.
The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Somalia, Michael Keating, who attended the Garowe gathering said it’s very obvious that Somalia’s problems are not going to be solved unless women are at the front and centre.
“That includes everything from health and education, to supporting families, through to business and the economy – but also security and, especially, conflict resolution,” said Keating.