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In conservative Somalia, a rare woman presidential candidate

Sunday September 12, 2021

The woman who broke barriers as the first female foreign minister and deputy prime minister in culturally conservative Somalia now aims for the country's top office as the Horn of Africa nation moves toward a long-delayed presidential election

Somali Parliament member Fawzia Yusuf H. Adam, center, chats with campaign supporters at Lido beach in Mogadishu, Somalia Monday, July 19, 2021. The woman who broke barriers as the first female foreign minister and deputy prime minister in culturally conservative Somalia now aims for the country’s top office as the country moves toward a long-delayed presidential election. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

Mogadishu, Somalia (AP) — The first female foreign minister and deputy prime minister in Somalia to break the barrier, the Horn of Africa moves towards a long-delayed presidential election, opening the country’s top office I am aiming.

Parliamentarian Fawzia Yusuf H. Adam is well aware of the difficulty of winning votes in countries where women are often marginalized. In an interview with the Associated Press, she described the struggle to lead a foreign ministry employee who is overwhelmingly male.

“They were very reluctant to work with me just because I was a woman,” she said.

Even if more educated women return to Somalia from the big diaspora to help rebuild the country after 30 years of conflict, Adam’s attitude towards public office candidacy is sympathetic. , Almost skeptical. Even friends and colleagues think her chances are nearly impossible because of her gender.

“She’s fine, but unfortunately she’s a woman,” said Abdiwahid Mohamed Adam, a doctor at the Mogadishu Memorial Hospital. Complicating her bid is the fact that Adam comes from the isolated region of Somaliland, a relatively stable region in the north that has long sought international recognition as an independent nation.

But Adam, a widow and three mothers with a gentle tone, said he believed that running for president was worth it, not wasteful, at some level. October towards the end of the year.

“I want to break this barrier to women and give many others the courage to run and even win in the near future,” she said, adding that it was time to fight for women’s rights.

Somalia’s long-standing anxiety, characterized by a devastating attack by al-Shabaab extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda, also ran Adam. “For the last three decades, there has been some turmoil in this country,” she said. “Young people die like flies, killing each other, exploding, and killing others.”

Like everyone else in Somalia, she has seen anxiety undermine the foundations of the country. The result is high unemployment, poor education, and one of the world’s least equipped health care systems. Corruption and political conflict were useless.

“I thought women might be what the country needs, women’s leadership, to bring peace and stability,” said Adam.

Her presidential campaign was relatively unobtrusive due to anxiety and the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of holding large public rallies, Adam prefers small indoor rallies. “It’s cheap, but it can be less effective,” said Rivan Abdullah Farah, a political analyst in the capital, Mogadishu.

Despite the highest case fatality rate of COVID-19 in Africa, Adam takes the pandemic seriously, unlike many other candidates and everyday people in Somalia who rarely see face masks. After seeing a friend die, speak openly about the danger.

“I continue to advise on this pandemic, especially how it affects women and their poorest people,” she said. “We do not have a good medical system to deal with this phenomenon.”

Somali women have been particularly hit hard by the virus, both physically and economically, Adam said.

“I personally received two vaccinations. Many have received them, but many poor people in camps, internally displaced persons, and very poor and vulnerable people do not have the opportunity.” She said. “What I want is to win this election. (Pandemic) is one of my priorities because we don’t want to lose more people.”

With the exception of some messages of consciousness, the federal government of Somalia has done little to implement basic viral precautions for social distance, hand washing and mask wearing.

At the national coronavirus treatment center in the capital, Deputy Director Abdilahim Omar Amin told AP that “a large number of women are infected with COVID-19.” However, data from the Ministry of Health show that more than 70% of the cases confirmed in Somalia are male.

“People themselves are unconscious or in a state where they call it” heartburn “and deny being at home, and when it’s too late they are brought here,” he said. Told.

If Adam’s elected president is Fatuma Mohammed, he wants to help among women. Fatuma Mohamed is one of the hundreds of thousands of people living in Mogadishu camps after evacuating due to climate shocks such as anxiety and drought.

Mohammed said her husband died of COVID-19 while she survived. Currently, she is having a hard time raising two young children and is doing the laundry as much as she can to make money.

“This illness has devastated us, it killed my mother and my husband,” she said. “I have never seen anyone who can help me. I am having a hard time alone.”

The path of Adam’s life is very different. Married to the general, she first entered politics in her hometown of Hargeisa, Somaliland a few years ago, but fled to Mogadishu, saying that local politicians considered her a threat. She later launched a political party, the Democratic Party for the People, and was promoted to some of the country’s highest positions.

Currently, to pursue the presidency, Adam has Somaliland in mind as part of her ambitions.

“If I win, I belong to both the north and the south, so I’m sure I can reunite my country,” she said. Make a unified plan. “

She said she was aiming to become prime minister if her candidacy failed, adding that “I will always advise those who have won the president.”


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