Deputy UN chief tasks Somali women on peaceful elections

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, on Sunday, called on Somali women to fully participate in politics and to ensure peaceful elections in their country.

Mohammed, who made the call in Mogadishu, expressed solidarity with Somali women’s calls for equal participation in political life and the support of the international community for timely, inclusive, peaceful and credible elections.

In her various meetings in the capital, Mohammed highlighted the country’s parliamentary elections as an opportunity to build on the progress made in women’s political participation.

She also emphasised that women’s full inclusion in all sectors of society would contribute to greater resilience, peace, and stability in the country, stressing that the peace dividend will not happen without women.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Somalia is presently holding elections into its Upper House and preparing for elections into its Lower House, known as the ‘House of the People’.

The UN and Somalia’s other international partners have been heavily engaged in supporting national efforts to advance the polls, frequently voicing support for greater inclusion of women in the country’s political arena and urging leaders to safeguard a 30 per cent minimum quota.

“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 an important first step to full representation and an inclusive society. The peace dividend will not happen without women,” Mohammed said.

In Mogadishu, the Deputy secretary-general met with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo,’ as well as Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and the National Consultative Council (NCC), whose members include 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.

“They have shown leadership by 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,” she added.

Mohammed’s other meetings included discussions with Somali elders as well as women leaders and advocates from a range of areas, including electoral management bodies, goodwill ambassadors, champions and civil society leaders.

She expressed her solidarity with their efforts to bring about greater involvement of women in the country’s political space as well as in economic life.

The UN deputy secretary-general noted concerns voiced on the overall situation of Somali women, including levels of violence and insecurity, and how this impacts their participation in political life.

“Somalia has achieved considerable momentum with its electoral process, she noted of the elections and recent political tensions.

She added: “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.

“I have confidence in Somalia’s leadership to de-escalate any tensions and avoid actions that could lead to violence and further delay the elections or undermine its credibility.”