One Person One Vote (1P1V) didn’t bring about gender equality in Somaliland elections. Not a single woman candidate has won a seat in the local parliament. This is the closest indication that 1P1V wouldn’t help the cause of women in somalia’s general elections either. Foreign missions to Somalia and gender sensitive countries of Scandinavian types keep pushing for higher percent of women participation in Somali political bodies. foreign experts and advisers to those governments don’t bother studying the issue before demanding women quota in Somali political and administrative systems. Nobody knows where the core of the issue lie in Somali society.

Foreign proponents of gender equality should know that the issue is rooted in Somali traditional system on the top of Islamic tradition and teachings. Before we try to impose women quotas in Somali governance, we have to look into the role of women in traditional clan leadership. Why don’t women play a role there? Why aren’t there women titled elders in Somali clan system (isimmo, nabadoonno)? How do you expect to break the political barriers before you dismantle the traditional obstacles along the way to a woman leadership? Don’t we need studies on that issue before we complain about lack of gender equality? Isn’t it imperative for women to focus on resolving the core impediments along the way to women leadership role in the society?

We would like to see debates along this line of thinking to enhance women position in Somali politics. Foreign demands for gender equality in Somalia are counterproductive and dangerous to Somali core values and national unity. It has to stop. We, Somalis, have to find local solutions to this societal problem and build upon our own native approaches.



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