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Somali women fight for parliament seats


Monday, August 13, 2012
by Abdulaziz Billow Ali

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Somalis are celebrating the joy of having a new constitution that was adopted unanimously on the 1st of August by 825 clan elders. However the excitement did not last too long for the Somali women.

Women from the civil society and political activists are demanding for their 30 percent quota as the deadline to the formation of a new government draws near.

A new 275 member parliament is set to be formed and concerns are growing among Somali women over the loss of political gains as stipulated in the new draft constitution. In Somalia, parliamentary seats are allocated using clan-based power sharing system, the 4.5 formula, where equal number of seats in parliament goes to each of the four major Somali clans; while a coalition of minority clans receive half that number.

For the first time in the history of Somalia, Somali women have been given a 30% representation in the new government set to be formed after 20th of August that is to mark the end of an eight year old Transitional federal government.

Sections of women groups and political rights activists in Somalia now warn that they will organize demonstrations and protests to put pressure on clan leaders and elders to grab their share of seats in the next parliament and ministerial portfolios.
Political activists argue that they will exert pressure on the Somali leaders if they continue to ignore their demands for constitutional rights. The upcoming Somali parliament will be the largest in terms of the number of seats ever reserved for women lawmakers since Somalia gained its independence in 1960.

Somali women may have to fight a long, political and legal battle to get the quota of 30% of the seats in the new Somali government in a patriarchal culture society despite being forced to bear the brunt of a two decade civil war.



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