Women's Participation in Government and Business Leadership
Women are the backbone of every nation. They are the glue that holds and binds the nation. They are the one who usually takes care of the families no matter what or how painful and difficult it is. They sacrifice their lives and everything on their capability for the sake of helping their families.
Ever since the collapse of the central government in late 1990s, Somali women have been involved in mitigating conflicts between the societies. They always act like a bridge between the conflicted parts, they mitigate conflicts, prepare meeting venues, prepare food & drinks and everything necessary to make that meeting successful. They carry peace rallies and bring people together. Their position within the clan system gives them the ability to bridge clan divisions and to act as a first channel for dialogue between parties in conflict. Few of women’s initiatives for peace have been documented as nobody took them seriously until agreements had been reached. Many women peace activists have found the struggle for peace inextricably linked to that for women’s rights.
I have been working in the field of peacebuilding and conflict resolution for years and I have seen what women are actually capable of doing. The devastating part is that they sacrifice everything to mitigate and mobilize the conflicted parts to have peace talks yet they are never included in the decision-making forums where peace accords are negotiated. One of the reasons been claimed is that woman’s affiliations with the clan of her father, mother, husband, children and son-in-law, mean that a woman’s clan loyalty is perceived as unpredictable.
Women own most of the small enterprises. They also own or have shares in some of the large enterprises. They have been the sole breadwinners for over two decades and have taken care of families in the midst of chaos and terror. They funded peace talks and contributed to the meetings financially.
When women are mobilized and empowered, they can work wonders. They can be good leaders because mostly women are more honest than men. Women are more dedicated to whatever they intend to do. Usually women are on the forefront of every mediation. They go to the war zone, sometimes they go to places where cant go or have access to it. Men should accept that women are their other half. Also men should respect women, encourage them and always stand beside them.
In Somalia, civil society organizations led by women have achieved much in the past two decades. They have helped disempower the warlords and reduced the significance of clan affiliation. They have ensured civil society representation which is essential to any peace and reconciliation process. Somali women made progress on their participation in politics. But Somali women still face constraints in breaking through gender based inequalities and cultural and practical barriers to equal political participation.
They need to be listened, to be included in the decision making committees, they need to hold positions within the government, and their voices and ideas should matter to reach a sustainable development. Women’s perspective and experience should matter in creating an everlasting peace and stability in every country.
I recommend that women’s present in the governmental seats and business leadership should be improved. As long their efforts go unrecognized, countries will suffer and we cant reach sustainable development and peace. I hope the leaders who are meeting at Rio+20 will enhance the support of women worldwide.