Somali women leaders have called on lawmakers to approve a pending electoral reform bill that would enshrine the principle of a 30 percent gender quota in future national legislatures.
Speaking at a roundtable forum which brought together more than 30 women representing parliament, civil society, the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC), diaspora communities, political parties and academia, the women also reviewed the challenges still facing them as they prepare for one-person, one-vote elections scheduled to take place in 2020.
“The electoral law which provides for the 30 percent quota on women representation has not been passed, and it is our hope that it is passed by both the House of the People and the Senate and the draft constitution will also be amended to reflect that,” Asha Abdulle Siyad, chairperson of the Somali Women’s Leadership Initiative, said according to a statement issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on Sunday evening.
A joint communique on the way forward will be issued at a three-day Somali Women’s Convention, which kicked off in Mogadishu on Monday.
Halima Ismail Ibrahim, NIEC chairperson noted that the discussions will help Somali women overcome the obstacles that surface during elections.
“This conference is about the rights of the Somali women and coincides with the events to mark the International Women’s Day,” said Ibrahim.
She added that the electoral commission will work closely with civil society to educate the public about the electoral reforms being undertaken ahead of the country’s next round of elections.
The women leaders discussed a variety of topics ranging from the constitutional review process and affirmative action to electoral and political party processes and barriers to women’s participation in politics.
The roundtable was supported by the UN mission and is one in a series of events organized by Somali women leaders ahead of the International Women’s Day celebrations that will be held on Friday.
During the 2016 electoral process, female representation in the federal parliament rose from 14 percent in the outgoing legislature to 24 percent.
However, the increase fell short of the 30 percent quota goal, which women leaders are planning to endorse for the 2020 elections.