Somali women in peace building

Peace! Peace! Peace assurance, I call
Everyone in society has a great role to play
Never to repeat previous mistakes
Never to shun responsibilities
Because peace is a collective responsibility
Somali poetress Mariam Mohamud, Galkayo

How does warfare and armed conflict affect the lives of women and young girls in Somalia? Do women have a role to play in peace building and conflict prevention? Never before has a conference of this kind; exploring specific personal experiences of violence been organized in Galkayo. These questions were answered at a Somali women’s conference on the occasion of International Peace Day September 21st 2012 in Galkayo. The event was funded by HIRDA, and it
was attended by a good number of Somali women from different walks of life; doctors, lawyers, women’s rights activists, students, stay at home mothers, politicians and women from the civil society in Galkayo. Also Somali women from the Mudug part of Puntland, Somalia were present. During the conference their voices, experiences and frustrations were captured.

New gender roles, new responsibilities
It is early morning and the fist participants to arrive are the older women, I assumed mothers whose children are old enough to fetch for themselves or be left alone at home. There is a sense of sisterhood in the air and women greet and embrace one another. They look curious and keen to attend the peace day celebrations.

These women experienced war and each wrinkle on their face tells a different story. In Somalia mothers are respected as leaders and as peace builders, because they demonstrate capacity to resolve issues in their houses and within the wider community. During the civil war, these women acted as crucial peace builders by facilitating peace negotiations, taking part in mediations and community conflict resolution.

Women’s voices and experiences
A women at the conference explained how she was personally affected by violence in her community. The woman had her phone stolen at least 4 times in the past 2 years. She and her entire family avoid going out in the evenings. Another woman explained how the often forgotten Somali women saved Somalia and its people, particularly the younger generation, during the war. Somali women were doing the hard work during the difficult times but when the good times have arrived they are not allowed to enjoy the fruits of the crops they planted or even reap them. During the war Somali women protected and helped the family and neighbors (children, the old and the sick), they took over the role of the women as well as that of the man. They became the backbone of the country in terms of producing and maintaining the future of their kids and educating the nation’s young.

For more information, download the pdf article here

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