The women of Somalia bear an unequal brunt of the hardships occasioned by poverty, conflict and clan-based culture which promotes strict male hierarchy and authority. This is further exacerbated by religious and cultural limitations on the role and status of women in Somali society. As a result, deeply rooted gender inequality prevails; Somali women are either excluded from formal decision making and asset ownership or operate through a patriarchal filter.

Somalia has extremely high rates of maternal mortality, rape, cases of female genital mutilation, violence against women and child marriage. Women’s access to justice is restricted both within the formal, clan based and sharia-based judicial systems. Women face limited access to economic resources and assets. This is compounded by women’s low participation in politics and decision making spheres.

Women in Somalia face challenges that undermine their potential for political participation and leadership. Women’s political representation remains low. For example, in Somaliland there is only one female minister out of 28 and only two members of parliament out of 86. There is also a notable absence of women in the higher levels of government such as director general and head of department levels.

In terms of women’s economic empowerment, women in Somalia generally have a weak position in the labour market and represent a large proportion of people in vulnerable employment. Economically, women have made some gains, expanding into employment and livelihood sectors traditionally held by men, particularly as more women assume responsibility for household income generation.

Violence against women and girls remains high in Somalia with displaced women and girls targeted. Somalia also has a history of violent attacks on women leaders, women who speak out against gender-based violence and the men and women who defend them.

Our programmes

Women lead and participate in decision making at all levels

We will prioritize increasing opportunities for women’s leadership by tracking representation and participation of women in political parties and political decision making. UN Women Somalia will enhance capacity of Somali women and other gender advocates to influence peace talks, recovery/peacebuilding planning processes and the 2016 election processes. We will partner with the African Centre for Transformative Leadership (ACTIL) to build the capacity of Somali women political candidates and aspirants and equip women with tools and skills to ensure their political participation. UN Women Somalia will also provide capacity development to gender activists and civil society organizations.

Women, especially the poorest and most excluded, are economically empowered and benefit from development

Our economic empowerment programme targets poor urban and rural women who have entrepreneurial potential but lack assets, skills or access to financial services. We will establish formal linkages between women/youth entrepreneurs with strategic partners and private sector providers to improve access to financial services. The programme will leverage financial products, social capital and physical assets for women and youth.

Women and girls live a life free from violence

This programme will strengthen prevention and expand services to survivors of violence by increasing access to response services and prevention strategies to end Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). UN Women Somalia will support engagement of men and boys in combatting violence against women and girls and advocate for continued social mobilization for zero tolerance of violence against women and girls.

Governance and national planning fully reflect accountability for gender equality commitments and priorities

UN Women Somalia will work with national government, a number of sector ministries in addition to the finance and planning ministries, legislature and civil society organizations to support gender responsive planning and budgeting processes.

UN Women’s contribution to more effective and efficient UN system coordination and strategic partnerships on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

UN Women Somalia will ensure information sharing, coordination and synergies with other similar initiatives through the UN Country Team. Ensuring that the UN Country Team and the Resident Coordinator’s system have the capacity to advance gender equality is one of the highest priorities for UN Women Somalia.