EISA Somalia: Women's representation in electoral and governance processes

See also Participation by women, youth and marginalised groups

Cover: Policy Brief


EISA Somalia publishes policy brief on the non impact of gender quotas on the representation of women in Parliament.

EISA recently produced a policy brief exploring why, despite having a gender quota provision, Somalia has failed to reach the target number of women in the national Parliament for nearly three consecutive electoral cycles. This brief offers possible recommendations on how to support women's participation in political and electoral processes in Somalia.

EISA Somalia publishes photobook on women's participation in election processes

Photobook cover

EISA in Somalia recently published a booklet called "Reliving the Experiences" in which different women share their experiences participating in Somali politics. The book published as part of the overall Support for peaceful elections in Somalia (PEACE) reflects on the opportunities and obstacles that women still face with regards to participation and representation in elections.

The book speaks to current, former and aspiring candidates for the 2021/ 2022 elections. It looks to broadcast the voices of women advocating for participation and representation in Somali politics. The booklet ultimately seeks to reflect on the work that has and needs to be done in order to promote women's political participation.

A video containing some of the interviews can be seen here.
Situational Review cover

EISA Somalia publishes situational review on women's political participation

29 Aug 2022

On 29 August 2022 EISA published a situational review entitled "Women's Participation in Politics and Electoral Processes in Somalia". The review, which is published as part of the overall Support for peaceful elections in Somalia (PEACE) programme seeks to take stock of the (lack of) progress that has been made in the participation of women in the electoral process.

This review is the aftermath of less than satisfactory numbers of female participation in the 2016-2017 and 2021-2022 electoral processes.

Advertisement for a public debate to advocate for the inclusion of women in cabinet
Advocacy for women's inclusion in 2022 Cabinet

31 Jul 2022

The Somalia Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre, is expected to make his cabinet appointment following the conclusion of the May 2021/22 electoral process. In anticipation of this announcement, EISA, in collaboration with its partners, SONSA and PUNSAA, organised a public debate to advocate for the inclusion of women in cabinet positions on 31 July 2022 in Mogadishu. The debate hosted speakers from civil society, women's organisations, and aspiring women candidates from the recent elections.

Although Somali women constitute the majority of the Somali population their representation in the current parliament is only 20%. As Somali women have had minimal presence in the Somalia cabinet, there is a need for Somali women to have a fair share of power and influence in public decision-making.

Recognising the influential role that the media plays in civic education and public outreach, the public debate was live streamed through Mustaqbal TV, on Facebook, and reached 361 viewers in addition to 35 participants that joined the debate in person. The high number of followers who interacted with the debate through live streaming illustrated widespread interest in the issue. The public debate provided a unique opportunity for CSOs to lobby for gender parity and build a case for women's inclusion in the cabinet and other decision-making positions. The expected outcome of the debate is increased pressure on the Office of the Prime Minister to consider women candidates for cabinet positions.

Roundtables on women's political participation in Somalia
EISA supports state-level post-election roundtables on Women's Political Participation

27 June 2022 & 2 July 2022

EISA supported a series of state-level roundtables convened to reflect on what worked and what did not work during the 2021/22 Somalia electoral process. These roundtables will culminate into a brief that will equip future candidates, CSOs, and relevant stakeholders with critical information that will enhance the general participation and representation of women in future elections. The roundtables extracted critical lessons needed to improve future electoral processeses. Group photo of all the participants at the roundtable To date, two out of the five planned state-level roundtables have been held in Mogadishu (27 June 2022 ) and Garowe, Puntland (2 July 2022). Participants were drawn from women MPs and Senators, women candidates, Goodwill Ambassadors, CSOs, women working groups, persons with disability and women representatives who worked with FEIT and SEIT. The main issue identified was the lack of a legal framework that supported women's seats and inadequate mechanisms to ensure the 30% quota for women is achieved. A Lack of political will was also mentioned among other systematic barriers.


Support to women's public participation

15 - 16 & 25 - 26 January 2022

EISA held two activities on: "Enhancing Somali women's role in leadership" in South-West on the 15 - 16 January and on 25-26 January in Jubbaland . The aim of the activities was to encourage Clan Elders, the youth and women, former and current politicians, to consider supporting female candidates and to promote women's leadership and political participation. The events were attended by women district leaders, student leaders, lectures, women candidates, senior clan elders, CSOs and women aspirants to connect with the public to inspire and empower women for leadership in public and political life. 160 people attended the events comprising 85 women and 75 men . Women pledged to " support their sisters in the electoral process.

Striving for 30% women's representation in Parliament

EISA, with support from Sweden (through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), has significantly contributed to the promotion of women's participation in public and political life ahead of and during the 2021 Somalia elections. In pursuit of a 30% women's representation in the elections, EISA facilitated capacity building, advocacy initiatives and dialogue platforms in partnership with both state and non-state actors in Somalia. Resultantly Somalia witnessed a 50% decrease in registration fees for women candidates, 30% of women delegates for the Lower House elections being selected, increased coordination between women's organizations and state institutes at both federal and state levels in pushing for the quota, sustained momentum on the 30% discourse and development of a strategy for the achievement of the quota by election stakeholders.

Ultimately, representation of women in the Upper House increased to 26% and it is anticipated that representation of women in the Lower House election will be higher than before. While the targeted threshold may not be achieved to expectation in the 2021 elections, Somalia has provided evidence that even in very challenging political contexts, women's participation in political processes can still be enhanced.

English cover: Promoting Women's participation: Campaign Manual for Women Candidates in the Somalia 2021 Elections
Promoting Women's Participation: Campaign Manual for Women Candidates

The objective of the Promoting Women's participation: Campaign Manual for Women Candidates in the Somalia 2021 Elections (Somali) manual is to strengthen the capacity of aspiring women candidates to run a successful election campaign. The manual highlights key tools and skills that build a candidate's profile, fundraising and budgeting, strategies to engage with the media to enhance visibility and engagement with clan elders, delegates and relevant stakeholders.

Supporting training in the FMSs: outreach strategies for the women's 30% quota

July 2021

A total of 25 events were held during the reporting period. EISA reached all six FMSs. These activities focused on outreach strategies for the women's 30% quota. Clan elders, religious leaders, women, and youth and state actors were present. Among the topics discussed during the events were: Civic education on democracy, governance, and active political participation of women; increasing women's participation in the indirect elections; the role of traditional and religious leaders in achieving the 30% women's quota; women's participation in Parliamentary election in Somalia, Somali women 30% quota in the 2020/2021 elections; strengthening and increasing political participation of women in the 2020/2021 electoral process and beyond; strengthening the capacity of women aspirants and advancing the 30% women's quota. In Galmudug, the event resulted in the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee on women quota.

On 31 July 2021, EISA also supported an introductory meeting between the 30% quota task force members, Goodwill Ambassadors and women candidates in Mogadishu, BRA. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the 30% Quota Task Force team and Goodwill Ambassadors to the women aspirants/candidates, build a working relationship, and establish trust between them. The 30% Quota Task Force team and Goodwill Ambassadors will lobby for 30% women's quota in the election women's participation and promote peaceful participation in the process. They will also commit to peace and work closely with local communities, especially women, youth groups, religious leaders, local administrators, and political institutions at district and community levels to ensure peaceful indirect elections and develop unity and peace networks. The meeting was attended by 118 participants, 48 Taskforce members, 60 women candidates, and 10 Goodwill Ambassadors. See Workshop on Leadership for Women Political Quota

Round tables with political leaders, clan leaders and CSO representatives to promote women political participation promoted

SONSA with the support of EISA held a roundtable in the Galmudug region with political leaders and key electoral stakeholders from women organisations and activists, youth, regional authorities, clan elders and religious leaders to ensure women active participation in the elections and to ensure their quota in both upper and lower house seats. The outcome of the roundtables was a commitment from stakeholders to support strategies that promote women political participation and influence clan leaders and traditional elders to female candidates and ensure a 30% quota for women.

Roundtable on women's participation in electoral processes

Somali Non-State Actors (SONSA) with the support of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), organised a CSOs roundtable in Mogadishu, Somalia on 24 February 2021. The 30 participants included political leaders and key women's CSOs. The objective of the roundtable was to develop a shared understanding of the key issues around womens political participation in Somalia. Discussions included challenges that hinder womens participation under the existing electoral system with a view of identifying advocacy strategies that will promote the implementation of the 30% women quota and strengthen womens participation in the anticipated 2020/2021 elections. The event also discussed advocacy strategies and documented recommendations for different stakeholders.

The roundtable was highly interactive, with a keynote address and discussions led by representatives from 2021 Roundtable on women's political participation Save Somali Women and Children, Somalia Gender Equality Movement, HINNA, IIDA, Somali Women Lawyers Association, Women Journalists Association, Somali Women Development Centre(SWDC) and Somali Women's Leadership Initiative(SWLI).

A similar event is planned for 28 February 2021 in the Kismayo region.

This roundtable is one among other planned activities aimed at enhancing women political participation and reducing electoral conflict in Somalia under the Support to Peaceful elections in Somalia (PEACE ) project supported by the European Union.

Photo Credit: SONSA @SONSA_NSA