Somalia: Clans a Major Obstacle for Women Vying in Somalia Polls


The clan factor will be the biggest obstacle for Somalia women seeking leadership positions as the country heads for elections this month.

Experts on Somalia say it will prove difficult in the strictly patriarchal Somalia society, and realising the prescribed 30 per cent quota for women in the national assembly will be difficult.

The Somalia National Leadership Forum (NLF) resolved in August that 30 per cent of the 275 seats in the national assembly and 52 in the Senate should be reserved for women. That means Somali women are supposed to get 82 seats in parliament and 15 seats in the Senate.

Signs that women are going to face tough times in the elections came as early as June 2015, when Fatuma Dayib – the first woman to declare her interest in the country’s presidency – received death threats from Al Shabaab for daring to contest the presidency, which according to the militants, would be an abomination.

Mohamed Dubo, a political analyst and publisher of The Somalia Investor, said it will be difficult to fill the 30 per cent quota of women leaders in the current political climate.

“Many communities prefer male candidates and will not vote for a woman to represent them in parliament or in the Senate,” said Mr Dubo.

Trying to meet quota

According to the new electoral model, the Independent Electoral Commission is supposed to ensure that the 30 per cent quota is met, while 135 elders – who will select the 14,000 electors who will elect the MPs – have been urged to ensure sufficient women’s representation in their selection.

Each MP will be elected by 51 constituency members selected by clan elders.

In 2012, parliament only had 20 per cent women’s representation – 55 MPs out of the total 275.

“Despite the will and the general enthusiasm in the streets to put more women in positions of leadership, it will be difficult because the 275 MPs are representing sub-clans. The women will be competing on an equal footing with the men because there are no reserved seats for women,” said Abdirahaman Omar Osman, a former adviser to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.


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