(ERGO) – Fadumo Moalim Ali, 27, is one of the 24 women candidates competing in the clan–based selection process for the next round of representatives to the Jubbaland regional state parliament in southern Somalia.
She has been trying to convince elders from her clan to give her a chance to serve as their representative in the parliament.
“The traditional elders are part of the obstacles denying women opportunities in politics,” complained Fadumo, a mother of five.
“When you seek a chance from your own clan, they tell you that you are married to a certain other clan and so you are not one of our clan members.”
Somali society typically holds a conservative notion of women’s role in family and community life, rarely offering them positions of political leadership. A married woman, moreover, is assumed to belong to the clan of her husband.
Nevertheless, Fadumo– born and bred in Kismayo– says she is ready to do her utmost to get into public office.
“I believe I can bring changes,” Fadumo told Radio Ergo.
“I hope to win this fight. As women, we are somehow isolated as male candidates have both the support and the finance, but still that will not weaken our resolve,” she vowed.
Jubbaland State has the second lowest number of women legislators in Somalia, with only four women out of the 75 members of the assembly. Behind Jubbaland comes Puntland State, which has only one female lawmaker.
Fatuma Farah Adan is one of the four female members whose term ends this month. She believes women need more external pressure to bring about change.
“During our time, the pressure from IGAD [regional body] and the international community gave us the chance to be selected. My seat was initially allocated to a man but after continued pressure, my elders chose me,” she explained.
Ugas Omar Hiray, the spokesman of Jubbaland traditional elders, told Radio Ergo that they had drafted a directive requiring that every seat will be contested by two male and one female candidate.
“As elders, we are planning to get more female candidates and lawmakers and hopefully this time round there will be more women in Parliament than at present,” he stated.
But Adar Ismail Jurrati, a female candidate, says this is mere lip service. If they are serious, Adar thinks the elders should allocate women only seats.
“It is obvious that if a woman competes with two men, she will be defeated. I participated in the 2017 federal parliament elections where I competed with three men, so this is the same process as that,” she said.
Kafiya Abdullahi Naleye, an advisor to the constitutional review committee on women representation, says the committee is emphasizing equal gender opportunity. She urged the state’s electoral agency to implement the 30 per cent quota allocated for women.
The regional state assembly in Kismayo will vote in August for the state’s second president since the Jubbaland administration was formed in 2013.