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Women And Political Power
I wish to sincerely thank the many people who wrote to me emails asking me to continue writing. The majority of these people are interested to know exactly what is happening back home.
I have answered back these emails on time and accepted to start writing again at reasonable intervals, hoping that the audience will keep their expectations in check due to the limited time to serve and the unusual circumstances surrounding us. Success and growth can be well structured, organized, controlled and delivered on time when you have the tools to succeed. Writing is like being in a race with no finish line.
I will try to avoid the excessive use of jargon by explaining topics in simple, understandable language that can make the most complex concept more understandable and interesting to read.
It is true that the status of women is being elevated but still many people believe and adhere to the old traditions. Women need to promote forcefully the capacity to elect their own leadership and organize themselves in ways of their choosing and to cut the chain of male dominated political life. Active participation of women and enlightening the female population to their cause is the only way to change the political culture.
Educated women should be able to unite all women with different ideological beliefs around a common cause which will give a greater leverage to lobby for their rights inside their political parties and women organizations. They can get a political constituency of women voters if properly organized and motivated. Women need to differentiate between men who are supportive of their endeavors as advancement and an integral to mutual progress and those men who appear sympathetic to women, but are in fact attempting to hijack women's power for their own personal gains.
Whenever women attempt to struggle for sharing power, male politicians are often quick to advise them to stay out of politics and describe their involvement to be beyond acceptable bounds. One main factor that can greatly contribute to women's activism is to increase education opportunities and draw the attention of less privileged and the grass roots to class. Learning will enhance women's awareness capacity to their cause and will be able to mobilize resources to reach out to rural disadvantaged female populace. We can see that education, economic development and the communication technology are revolutionizing the status of women today.
The process of modernization is affecting the relations between men and women, rulers and ruled and between generations. This is a great advantage not only to women but to the men whose political rights are curtailed as well. In this dramatic change leaders cannot govern as they once did and the men cannot manipulate the women on cultural clan prohibitions any more. Although the constitution clearly outlines the rights of women, most men are not considerate to women in this respect and influence constrained women, kept them separated along cultural tribal barriers and forced them to exhibit their allegiance to male interests. Specially married women are in difficulty to find a constituency and are lost between her father’s and that of her husband. This is the reason why the educated female candidates did not win seats in the parliamentary elections.
If women do not start mobilizing themselves magic moments will not come by it that bring sweeping changes. Their struggle is more than efforts to bring about greater female representation and voice but to promote to have a say in making the rules that determine how politics is conducted.
In the past, age was believed to bring wisdom and the elders were respected and listened to simply because of their years. Now education opened the way for new ideas and attitudes. Education is considered to be more important than age. Elders are giving way to the younger people who have been to school. Learning will not only introduce new ideas to the people but will also change drastically the traditional relations between older and younger generations as well as between men and women. The traditional wisdoms are the force behind the cultural clan boundaries of our society today and are against constructive innovations that show flexibility of thought and attitude without jeopardizing our values.
The constitution of Somalia guaranteed the rights of women in 1960. They were allowed to vote, hold public office and own business. Lack of education and the traditional cultural and clan boundaries made it impossible for women to succeed until today. Women always show keen interest in the voting more than the men and still rulers make a few token appointments of women to silence those pushing for greater female representation. Women organizations in the country who are apolitical headed by few women not usually elected by the grass roots of the female populace are the main cause hindering the rights of women and the resources are always in their hands.
Some westerners wrongly assume that the Moslems are essentially static in this respect and cannot adjust to the changing requirements of modern times in respect of women's rights. This is a conclusion that is dangerously misleading. We can adjust to the rapidly changing world not by adopting western traditional model democracy but the kind of democracy that is best suited to our values.
A woman as a mother affects the world and human being. She finds motherhood very rewarding. Nowadays women are being neglected even to provide for them a safe place in birth centers. Women's confidence and ability to give birth is either enhanced or diminished by the care provider and place of birth. Child birth education empowers women make choices in health care and assumes responsibility for their health and to trust their inner wisdom.
It is the responsibility of both men and women to address the standard of antenatal and postnatal care. An overall direction guiding programs, promoting normal, natural, healthy and fulfilling child bearing experiences for women is required through education advocacy and reform. Women themselves have not felt their cause very strongly. The male domination of the political spectrum should be a force to unite them together to forcefully make their voices to be heard in all institutions of the government. Women should perform tasks which would have been far beyond the imaginings of their mothers in this rigidly male dominated structured society. In this way they can only get broader political and social equality and cut the chains of cultural clan prohibitions. Women have to realize that they cannot be a study walker before stumbling on hard stones.
Ibrahim Adam Ghalib