After a protracted conflict that has lasted more than two decades, there's now a sense of relative calm and security in Somalia. The unidentifiable gunmen that patrolled the streets have been replaced by men in smart uniforms.
The new prime minister of Somalia, rated as one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, has appointed a female foreign minister. Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan was one of two women chosen to join a lean cabinet of 10 ministers charged with leading the east African country out of decades of conflict and building on military gains made against the Islamist militants of al-Shabaab.
Somalia has recently selected its parliament on Somali soil for the first time since the civil war of the late 1980s. This is a significant achievement since regional power brokers such as Ethiopia and Kenya, with the financial and logistical backing of the European Union, the United States and the United Nations, concocted Somali governments in neighbouring countries.
On the 21st August 2012, a female tea seller traveling in the early evening was dragged from a bus in Awdiinle, Baidoa Region, by Al Shabaab taken to the bush close by and beheaded. The woman in question had been based in Bardaale district (Bay region) and had in the course of her tea selling business served members of the TFG who came to her shop regularly. Although she had received threats from Al Shabaab that she would be killed if she continued to receive business from the TFG, due to her position as sole breadwinner in her household, it was necessary that she continue.
Activists have welcomed a ban on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in the new constitution of Somalia – a country where 96 percent of women undergo one of the more extreme forms of the practice – but warn that translating the law into action will require more than just a legal declaration.
The Somali Media Women’s Association is a grassroots NGO in Somalia dedicated to increasing the presence of women in the media. They also organize capacity building and empowerment projects. The founder, Marian Zeila, is currently based in London and leads the organization from abroad.
According to a recent study carried out by Transparency International, Somalia was deemed to be the most corrupt nation in the world. The economic and political instability of Somalia has made it the site of many human rights violations, particularly against women. Females are underrepresented in the workforce as well as education. In fact, slightly over 1/3 of the students at the primary school level are girls, and very little progress has been made in this regard.
Six independent UN experts* on Thursday condemned the recent public execution, by firing squad, of two teenage girls in central Somalia, saying the executions are the latest manifestation of the “appalling human rights crisis that is plaguing the country.”