, MOGADISHU, Mar 8 – As Somali women celebrated International Women’s Day with various ceremonies in many parts of the country, calls for greater roles for women in national affairs have been voiced by women leaders.
The occasion were marked with marches and rallies in the Somali capital city of Mogadishu and various ceremonies held in commemoration for the day, where key government officials attended including Somali president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as well as other top government and community leaders.
Speaking at wreath laying ceremony at women’s memorial in Mogadishu, the Somali President congratulated the country’s women for the occasion and vowed to work to improve women’s role in government as well as in society.
Maryan Aweys Jama, Somali Women and Family Affairs Minister, called for greater role for Somali women who she said faced the brunt of the country’s twenty years of civil conflict.
Somali women have assumed the role of the family’s breadwinner following two decades of conflict which left most of the men unemployed.
Fadumo Hassan, a mother of 10 whose husband has lost his sight due to illness, said like many other women, she has been working to support her family for the past several years and has been business women selling livestock at the market.
“I have never done work before because my husband used to provide for the family and I raised the children but once he lost his sight I had to go out and feed my family,” said Hassan.
Many women are involved in business particularly in the clothing and food sectors, while Somali women has received boost in their political roles after a recent major constitutional conference in the country agreed to give 30 percent share in the country’s upcoming parliament in August this year.
“That is a major achievement for us Somali women but we had hoped for much greater representation because women represent more than 50 percent of the country’s total population,” Aisha Ali, member of a local women’s grouping total Xinhua in Mogadishu.
Aisha said there is a long way to go for Somali women in attaining their full right in Somali society, which she said still considers woman’s role to be “in the Kitchen”.
The women activist said that women in Somalia have also come a long way in what they have achieved so far.
Women activists say that Somali women should play their roles in the national reconciliation and rebuilding of the horn of Africa nation which has been through twenty years of anarchy and civil strife.
“We can contribute a lot to the peacemaking and rebuilding of our country as we move from transitional period to more stable and permanent government in our country,” said Aisha, who expressed hope that Somali women’s situation be improved in the years to come.