New constitution in Somalia – Progress for women’s rights

SoME Gavobevis 2023

3 August 2012

Since Somalia reached independence in 1960, the country has steadily evolved into a patriarchy, where women’s power and participation has been at the bottom of the agenda. The country is one of only three states that hasneither signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) nor resolution 1325, and legislations concerning gender equality are limited. However, this week has shown that there might be a light in the end of the tunnel for Somali women with the adaption of the new Somali constitution; with women’s rights as one of the focus areas.

The first constitution in over 40 years

Somalia has since 1991 functioned without a government because of its brutal civil war , which has limited the possibilities of implementing structural changes in the Somali society. Updating the country’s constitution has therefore been a need for a long time. One of the female delegates from the constitution process expresses relief with the finalisation of the process, joyfully exclaiming that the constitution is the first that Somalia has seen in over 40 years.

Female genital mutilation banned

With the new constitution, the practicing of female gential mutilation is condemned, with the simple formulation “the circumcision of girls is prohibited“. The inclusion of the subject in the constitution is important, seeing how widespread and structuralised the issue is in many parts of the country. The effect this part of the constitution will have on women’s rights tHerefor eremains to be seen.

More focus on women’s rights

During the political process in adapting the Somali constitution, 825 delegates from all parts of Somalia have participated and expressed their views regarding the content of the constitution. Even if the participation of women in the process was relatively low, issues concerning women’s rights and gender equality has been raised successfully. For example, the discussions have resulted in more focus on women as political actors. One of the female delegates comments this by saying: “According to this constitution, women will be able to participate in the country’s political process and that is what we appreciate very high“.

Julle Bergenholtz

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