Open Doors but Unable to Enter:
Working on a role for everyone within the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda

Women Peacebuilders Visiting our Somali Office
  • parties to armed conflict to respect the rights and protections of women and girls
  • UN Member States to increase representation of women at all decision-making levels
  • everyone to increase support for gender-sensitive training efforts


Community Peacebuilding Training for Women in Somalia

Unrealistic Financial Requirements

Despite a minimum 30% quota set aside for women members of parliament in Somalia, there are financial obstacles that prevent many women from running for election to these positions. Running for parliament requires a registration fee of US$ 10,000 for the members of Parliament in the Lower House and US$ 20,000 for the members of the Upper House of Parliament. This financial burden can be insurmountable to some, especially when only 22.6% of women ages 15 to 64 in Somalia are currently working. To offset this disadvantage, informal women’s networks must be strengthened long before a candidate decides to run so that she may be supported sustainably throughout the entire process, from fundraising to networking to campaigning to representing her constituents.

Threats of Violence while Working for Peace

Despite having access to positions of power, women often face opposition and threats of violence merely for their participation in political affairs. A participant in our 2019 Experience Sharing Workshop in Banadir, Somalia shared,

“I was held at gunpoint by masked men who asked me to stop engaging in peace work. As a result, I had to give up on DPC [community peacebuilding] work for some time. At the end I decided to continue my work, I still get threats. Despite all the threats and risks to our families, we are committed to bring peace and stability to the country”.

Whether it is direct threats, general insecurity, or an increase in gender-based violence, Somali women peacebuilders continue to overcome treacherous adversities in search of peace and stability — adversities often more dangerous for women. Support to women peacebuilders will look different in various contexts and all actors engaging in the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda must listen closely to women peacebuilders’ unique security needs, working together to ensure they are able to continue their work safely.


Workshop Participants in South Sudan

Equal Opportunities without Equitable Support

It was a common theme throughout our workshops in South Sudan that although women leaders had opportunities available to them in new roles of government, they were unable to participate equally. These women often felt they lacked the technical skills (such as public speaking, composing and presenting submissions to formal processes and bodies, coalition building, and negotiation) to tackle complex policy questions and that their male counterparts viewed them as not competent to do so. Traditionally, women had not been expected to assume an active role in political life which minimized their exposure to governance issues and processes. This is further compounded by gender discrepancies in literacy rates and average years of schooling attended. Support to women peacebuilders must be tailored to build their capacities, increase their comfort and knowledge of complex technical political processes, strengthen their networks, and build their self-confidence in their incredible abilities.


Scenes of the 2019 Protests, “My Grandfather was a Pharaoh, My Grandmother a Nubian Queen”

On the Frontlines of the Fight, Excluded from the Table

During the late-2018/early-2019 revolution, women (especially young women) spearheaded persistent, non-violent civil disobedience, with estimates of women comprising two-thirds of protestors. However, while a quota allocates 40% of seats for women’s participation in the future Transitional Legislative Council, women’s representation has been minimal in the transitional negotiations, in the newly formed government bodies, and in the peace process. Women have been underrepresented throughout the path to the Transitional Legislative Council, only two women participated in the August 2019 negotiations between the Forces of Freedom and Change and the Military Council, while the FCC Central Council only had three women members out of 26. Even now, women are still underrepresented, comprising only two of the 11 members of Sudan’s Sovereign Council and only four of Sudan’s 21 ministers. While the ongoing Sudanese peace process is celebrated for its inclusivity and innovation, women, peace, and security experts such as Huda Shafig, point out that the Juba Peace Agreement reinforces the historical exclusion of women and youth and subject these groups to advocate for these ground-breaking changes from the sidelines of the official negotiations. Women have been crucial in bringing change to Sudan and they deserve full and real participation in the processes which work to realize this change. In order to implement a successful, peaceful, and inclusive transition to democracy, women must play a larger role throughout every stage of the democratic transition. They must inform and design what the new government will look like and not merely be incorporated into the final picture.


Conference Participant on Supporting Exceptional Women Peacebuilders in Somalia

Working to prevent and resolve violent conflict and to alleviate human suffering resulting from conflicts and other crises around the world

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