Women across Somalia on Sunday joined the rest of the world to mark the International Women’s Day, during which they highlighted the role of women in the advancement of peace and stability in Africa.
Hundreds of women, youth, elders, politicians attended the day’s celebrations in the cities of Baidoa, Beletweyne, Dhobley, Jowhar, Kismayo, and Mogadishu.
To mark the day in Mogadishu, female troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali Police Force held a procession, performed cultural dances, and planted trees.
The Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, who was chief guest, called for the involvement of women and youth if Africa is to attain peace.
“Today, the number of uniformed women peacekeepers is exactly 1,017, which is the largest globally of women serving in a peacekeeping mission,” remarked Madeira.
Amb. Madeira noted that AMISOM’s work is guided by the AU commitment to ensure peace, security and stability in Somalia and this includes ending violence against women, promoting women participation in politics and governance, and integrating women in justice and peace processes.
Amb. Madeira also saluted the Federal Government of Somalia and federal member states for efforts to protect the political and economic rights of women.
During the event, Assistant Superintendent of Police Francisco Okafor, an AMISOM police officer, recited a poem highlighting the importance of gender equality.
“Women stand as the pillar and support to men and children, to make the world a better place for them,” Okafor noted.
Major Nasteha Hassan Mohamed, from the Somali Police Force, noted that progressive societies promote the women empowerment agenda.
“I salute fellow women in uniform for contributing to the struggle for peace and security. I acknowledge your role as guardians of peace,” said Nasteha.
In Hiraan region, residents of Beletweyne town met to reflect on the role of women in development, promoting governance, ending violence against women, advocating for political representation.
Farhaan Omar Arte, the chairperson of the Hiraan Women’s Organisation noted that women in Somalia are the backbone that has held together with the family units during the prolonged conflict.
“Somali women have endured and looked after the families during the civil war,” noted Farhaan.
In Kismayo, hundreds attended the celebrations. Present were the First Deputy President of Jubaland State Abdikadir Haji Mohamud, and members of the Jubaland cabinet.
Fatuma Moalim Ali, a member of the Jubaland State Assembly, called on fellow women to contest for elective positions to advance the interests of women.
“I urge women around the world to play a role in peace, politics and every facet of life. I also call upon Somali women to lead the stabilisation of the country,” said Fatuma.
In the South West State, celebrations took place at the presidential palace in Baidoa. Present was the First Lady of South West State Zamzam Mohat Abdirahman, cabinet ministers, members of the federal parliament, and the regional state assembly.
According to the chairperson of the Baidoa Women’s Organisation, Hawo Sokor Ali, the day was an opportunity to reflect on challenges that women face.
“Women are victims of war. In conflict, women lose their children, husbands, brothers, and have to take care of orphans. Women should advise men to support peacebuilding. Without peace, there is no life,” said Hawo.
In Dhobley town, Middle Juba region, female AMISOM, Somali National Army and Jubaland Security Forces joined other women to celebrate the day at the town’s hospital.
The day was marked with dance performances, free medical check-up, donation of sanitary towels, garments, and distribution of foodstuffs such as sugar, rice, and flour.
The AMISOM Gender Officer in Dhobley Grace Alufunke commended women for their commitment to restore peace in Somalia. “We are mothers, wives, sisters. So, our role cannot be left out,” said Alufunke.
In Jowhar, the chairperson of the Middle Shabelle Youth Organisation, Fartun Aden Hefow appealed to women to unite to achieve their objectives.
“Women can take part in building good governance and promote development and peace if we are united,” noted Fartun.
This year’s International Women’s Day was marked under the theme, ‘Each for Equal.’ Observed annually, International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women, while promoting gender equality and women empowerment.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union Mission in Somalia.