For the first time In Somaliland women are half of the educated labor force and earn the majority of advanced degrees. The number of boys and girls graduated this year was equal the only difference was girls outperformed boys in every field the top student of almost every university this year was a girl, But while women are doing spectacularly well in universities, in the workplace it’s an opposite picture. Women are stalling out, and the higher they go, the harder it gets, for decades we have focused on giving women the choice to go to school we have celebrated the fact that women have the right to make this decision and rightly so. But we have to ask ourselves if we have became so focused on supporting personal choices that we’re failing to encourage women to aspire to leadership, it’s time to cheer on girls and women who want to sit at the table seek challenges and lean in to their careers.
Recently I have attended Somaliland women National conference which was meant to discuss lack of women representation in politics and leadership in general the facts that were presented in the conference was absolute disappointment to say the least, despite women being a majority in Somaliland they make up less than 2% of leaders in both public and private sector there is only two women minister and one MP no women CEO’s in the big companies as there is no women mayor or judge in Somaliland .
Women are almost non existent in the positions of power , the older generations who came before us didn’t do the hard work of demanding equality especially those who had a chance in education , while we have far more opportunity than our mothers and grandmothers there are still biases that work against us , Somaliland should recognize that a true democratic nation is built on the solid foundation of the principle of equality of all people, and that any form of inequality will jeopardize the pace of development and that is why gender inequality must be seen as an obstacle to socio-economic and political development.
Clearly women are profoundly underrepresented in Somaliland and there is huge gender gap but the question is what we can do about it? First we need to start talking about it more often the discussions maybe difficult but we cannot change what we are not aware of and once we are aware , we cannot help but change , social gains are never handed out, we need to fight for it, we need to encourage more women to come forward and speak up for their rights we need to teach our young girls to be more outspoken and ambitious ,professional ambition is expected of men but it’s optional or worse ,sometimes even a negative for women she is very ambitious is not a compliment in our culture we need to over come that stigma.
On the other hand we need to understand as society that gender gap does not hurt only women it hurts everyone ,it’s not only an economic improvement It is a moral imperative imagine a society that half of it’s population’s talent , hard work and potential are undermined it’s high time for all somalilanders men and women to push together for equal representation for women in politics, business, industry and throughout working life because when women fulfill their potential everyone benefits.
Somaliland women let me tell you again social gains are never handed out we need to fight for it , we have a long and hard journey ahead to equality but guess what it’s in our reach , I believe in you I have so many hopes for you I hope you head into the next phase of your life with your eyes wide open. I hope you find a engaging work and pursue it with gusto .I hope that if you aspire to lead you will let nothing limit your ambition above all I hope you believe in yourself.
This is your time .you can help create a more equal Somaliland where everyone sits at the table and all voices are heard pave the way for the next generation. generations of women are rooting for you. I am rooting for you.
Finally if you’re a successful women with an established career and doing well in your field it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down, mentor young girls encourage them to follow their passion and not to give up on their dreams when things get hard because every girl deserves the opportunity to live up to their god given potential.
Fatima –Warda Bashir
Fatima is a certified HR practitioner based in Hargeisa
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