Somalia’s Women Fighting for Law Mandating 30% of Parliament Seats for Women

Women’s rights groups, female politicians, and businesswomen in Somalia are lobbying for parliament to pass a bill reserving 30% of seats for women in elections next year. Currently, women represent 24% of the 329 seats in both houses of parliament. 

This past June, the lower house of parliament approved a bill to reserve the seats but has stalled waiting on approval from the upper house. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed signed an agreement on the 30% quota with regional leaders in September, but women’s groups want the agreement to be law of the land. 

“We are happy to have achieved 24% in the current parliament, but legislation is necessary to ensure that we do not lose the seats we have and help strengthen democracy by providing for a more representative voice in policymaking,” said Deqa Abidqasim Salad, CEO of Hear Women, a Somali-based charity helping to strengthen the political voice of Somali women.

She, along with 135 signatories, signed a declaration requesting the 30% quota, which included examples of the quota system working to ensure women’s rights in 100 countries. One of the countries benefiting from the quota system has been Rwanda, which has the highest amount of female representation in government, with 55% of women in parliamentary seats. 

Elections in Somalia take place in February 2021.

The Realist Woman’s take:

Somali needs more female representation. Women’s lives are on the line. About 45% of girls marry before the age of 18, and 98% have undergone female genital mutilation. This is violence. Every woman deserves the right to have her government guarantee protection against any and all violence, and every woman deserves to have control over her body, reproductive rights, and the right to earning an education. 

I believe the only way things are going to change for women in this country, and in many counties, is by having women lead policy decisions. Women and girls in Somalia could finally have politicians fighting for equality and against violence if only more women worked in parliament. I hope the law reserving 30% of parliamentary seats passes. It’s the only shot women and girls in Somalia have for any peace, protections, and equality.