SOMALIA: Most of the difficulties of life in women living in Somalia
Most of the difficulties of life in women living in Somalia
Bahjo Abdishakur Osman
March 11 2014
The overthrow of President Said Barre in 1991 marked a turning point in Somali Politics, economy and society, Since then, Somalia has suffered from civil-war, widespread famine, broken infrastructure, rampant human and civil rights abuses, poverty, human trafficking, rape, murder and corruption at every level of society, With all these problems facing Somalia, hope is still alive through the efforts. Women have been the primary victims of a de-centralized war-torn nation and they at this point may be the only hope that Somalia has of ever reaching a legitimate cease-fire and progress towards decreasing violence and reaching political/economic stability in Somalia.
The situation for women living in Somalia appears to be worsening however that doesn’t mean that through the continued efforts of all Somalis, In Somalia and around the world, there are over one-hundred twenty different woman’s organizations that are actively involved in improving the situation in Somalia. Women originally were told they would have 25 per cent representation in the transitional authority but in reality were only given 12 per cent. Various demonstrations have been put on by different women’s organizations in and out of Somalia.
Somalia is often described as the world’s original failed state – a lawless country that has been engulfed in conflict for more than 20 years. I find that one of the greatest risks to women’s lives is not war, but birth. One of the most dangerous things a woman in Somalia can do is to become pregnant. When she does, her chances of survival drop considerably due to the nonexistent antenatal care, nonexistent medical supplies, the extraordinarily poor healthcare available and the lack of infrastructure.
Fears were also expressed by some Somali women’s organizations regarding what they perceived to be their shrinking political space for participation in decision making and representation in civil society groups. It was reported that women were no longer able to lead non-governmental organizations.
The future of Somalia is uncertain at this point however fortunately through the efforts of peace-keeping forces like those mentioned above, numerous women’s organizations advocating the rights of women and improving the health and violence problems facing the country, the situation could improve and peace be restored in a matter of time. How long that takes really depends on all the Somali people most especially the militants who continue to create problems for everyone and prevent Somalia from returning to be the mythically treasured country that it once was.
However, the difficult security situation in the country continues to threaten this painstaking progress. Currently, around 1.4 million people, mostly women and children, are displaced within Somalia after being forced to flee their homes. Many young girls and women are at risk of rape every minute of every day. I’ve seen girls as young as 5 who had been raped; the inability to enforce law in several areas allows for savages to kill and rape with impunity.
With only little resources and expertise on the ground, I ask my fellow sisters scattered around the world to ask the tough questions, knock on the doors of the powerful and to continue to speak up. I hope here in Somalia that one day, we too can better speak up for the women and girls of the world.
Bahjo Abdishakur Osman