Women’s rights groups, prominent businesswomen and female politicians in Somalia are urging the country’s male-dominated parliament to pass a bill reserving 30% of seats for women in next year’s general election.
Women hold 24% of the 329 seats in Somalia’s lower and upper houses of parliament, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), up from 14% in the previous election.
Women’s rights groups say a stronger voice at the top would have a trickle-down effect, helping women at the grassroots level fight abuse, discrimination and inequality.
Zahro Yusuf, who is aspiring to run as a candidate in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, said the reservation of seats for women was the only way to combat age-old sexist attitudes.
“I’m keen to have a seat in parliament. But I have the fear in my mind that local traditional, regional leaders in my clan wouldn’t consider me to represent my community, even though I want to serve my nation.Elections are expected to take place in February 2021.
The East African nation has high rates of child marriage and violence against women, including rape and female genital mutilation (FGM). The United Nations says 45% of women are married before 18, while 98% have undergone FGM.
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