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Are Women In Somaliland For The Kitchen And Household Chores Only?
By Ibrahim Adam Ghalib
The women in this country are not aware that the female voting population is more than 50% and they can challenge the male dominated political life that allowed the marginalization and socio-economic exploitation of women until today. They experience discrimination in terms of equal access to the power structure that controls society and determines political and economic issues. They became an important vehicle through which to control votes and contribute to male candidates.
One aspect that divert the female votes are often men as husbands, fathers, uncles, brothers and sons that advise them to stay out of politics and describe their involvement to be beyond accepted bounds. Tribal barriers and old cultural prohibitions make women themselves to be loyal to their related male candidates.
Most of the women of this country are un-educated and believe that women is only for the kitchen and house hold works and cannot exercise their rights in the constitution to elect and to be elected. These old traditions inhibit in the minds of women to accept the present stats-quo of male dominated political structure.
In the last parliamentary election educated women candidates failed to secure seats in the present parliament. They were separated along cultural and clan barriers that forced the female population to exhibit their allegiance and to vote for their tribal related male candidates. Specially married women could not find a constituency and were lost between her father's tribe and that of her husband.
The democratic constitution of Somaliland allows and guarantees the political rights of women as men. Lack of education and the traditional cultural and clan boundaries that the women believe more than the men made it impossible for women to succeed in politics. One only woman hardly secured a seat in Awdal and even in her case the women votes was not apparent in her voting result. She won her seat on a narrow margin and escaped defeat on a small difference.
The women do not differentiate between the men that are supportive to their cause and those who appear sympathetic to them but are in fact attempting to hijack women's powerful votes for their personal gains. The women so far did not understand that leaders cannot govern as they once did and cannot manipulate the women on clan and old cultural prohibitions that they used to rule against their wills.
Time has changed and they are required to advocate freely, communicate, educate and provide the strategic tools that can change the status of women. The women organizations that would have made a change are headed by few women not elected by the grass roots and lack the capacity and resources to be independent and this placed stress to grow and not to achieve its goals.
The important thing for these organizations to succeed is to elect the leaders in an open democratic forum and to generate funds to grow through either program revenues or community support. When they also elect their leadership in a democratic manner and manage their financial resources in a transparent way the female membership will increase and trust the organization.
We are in an election year and this is the time that the political parties will listen to them and recognize that the women are a decisive force that will determine the outcome of the election. It is time to promote women's cause forcefully and bargain on the voting capacity of the female population.
The women are required to participate effectively in the upcoming voter registration. If they stay in doors, this will decrease their chances of success in future and the male domination in the political structure will continue in the foreseeable future.
If women do not organize themselves magic moments will not come by itself that will make sweeping changes in their favor. Struggle and more efforts on the part of the women will only then bring about greater female representation that will determine the rules and how politics is conducted in this country.