The situation in Somalia - Security Council, 8867th meeting
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The situation in Somalia - Security Council, 8867th meeting.
Pointing out that, in 2016, Somalia reached a milestone with nearly a quarter of parliamentary seats occupied by women, the Deputy Secretary-General and speakers in the Security Council today called for a 30 per cent quota of legislative seats to be held for women in that country’s upcoming election. “These [2016] figures demonstrate that progress is possible even in the most difficult circumstances”, said Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed as she briefed the 15-member organ on her recent visit to that country to promote greater women’s participation in political life. “I made this second visit to Somalia because women’s political participation is a game changer in our efforts to achieve sustainable peace, development and more resilient and inclusive societies,” she said, stressing that the 30 per cent quota is a crucial first step towards the equal representation of women in all sectors of life, from business to public service, and from elections to appointments. Nonetheless, there is real concern that in the current elections, levels of representation of women will decrease, she said, highlighting Somali women’s struggles to access financial support to hold campaigns and a lack of the political networks and connections of their male peers. The political environment is not conducive to women, with many male leaders promoting male candidates. These challenges are compounded by violence and discrimination, she added. Shukria Dini, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Somali Women’s Studies Centre, also briefed the Council, reporting that recent visits to Somalia by the Deputy Secretary-General and Ireland’s Foreign Minister helped to put pressure on key actors to support women’s participation and representation in elections. In addition, their visit reassured Somali women that they are not alone in their struggle for political participation, empowerment and equality. To realize the 30 per cent quota, 83 seats in the House of the People and 10 seats in the Senate must be identified and reserved for women, she said. Leaders of Federal Member States who are also part of the National Consultative Council must ensure that the federal and state-level election implementation teams reject nominations of male candidates for seats reserved for women. For its part, the international community must not support elections which do not protect the 30 per cent quota, she demanded, adding that building a new Somalia can only be possible when women and other marginalized communities are fully included in all peace and political processes. In the ensuing discussion, Council members joined the briefers’ calls for implementing the 30 per cent quota. The representative of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines applauded Somalia for achieving what many Member States, including developed countries, have failed to do: 24 per cent of parliamentary seats were secured by women. The current election should set yet another milestone, thus achieving the aspirations Somali women have set for themselves, she stressed. Ireland’s representative, Council President for September, speaking in her national capacity, highlighted the direct correlation between the political participation of women and stability, peace and prosperity. The political participation of women, and their protection from violence, are also two sides of the same coin, she said, adding: “Only by tackling gender inequality, including through the political participation of women, will we be able to root out gender-based violence.” Kenya’s delegate cautioned against “toxic masculinity” — male behaviour that negatively impacts women’s advancement. “We embrace the 30 per cent parliamentary quota,” he said, adding that women should also be integrated into military and police sectors. The ideology of al-Shabaab is a problem affecting not just Somalia, but also his own country and other regional States, he pointed out. Viet Nam’s delegate said the 30 per cent representation of women in Parliament should be guaranteed, calling for an agreement on a specific mechanism to implement this quota. Adequate institutionalization of the role of women will help bring about their long-term inclusion in political, security and socio-economic mechanisms, she added. Norway’s delegate urged the Somali authorities to move beyond what was already achieved almost five years ago, calling on the country to ensure a clear mechanism for implementing the 30 per cent quota in both houses of Parliament. Achieving the full equal and meaningful participation of women is about more than implementing the quota, she said, adding that the Somali Women’s Charter provides a solid foundation towards more broad-based and inclusive reforms. Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, China, Tunisia, Russian Federation, India, United States, Niger, Mexico, France and Estonia. The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 4:25 p.m.