By. Naima Hassan
December 10 2023 Hargeisa – SIHA Network, an esteemed international organization, dedicated to advancing women’s rights, conducted a significant event as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign from the 7th to the 10th of 2023. The gathering served as a platform for various stakeholders committed to advocating for women’s empowerment and combating gender-based violence (GBV). Distinguished attendees included civil society organizations (CSOs), women’s rights activists, human rights advocates, women from internally displaced persons (IDPs) and minority communities, government representatives, lawyers, writers, and other esteemed invitees.
One of the prominent speakers at the event was Yousuf Timacade, a revered lawyer and writer, who delivered a resolute speech urging the government to address the pervasive issue of systematic violence against women and girls. Timacade emphasized the pressing need for protective measures to not only safeguard women but also ensure the equal treatment of all citizens irrespective of gender. He specifically pinpointed legal loopholes that demand immediate attention and rectification. Timacade presented a compelling case to the government, emphasizing that addressing the challenges confronted by women transcends gender-specific concerns. He underscored that championing women’s issues is pivotal to national prosperity, contending that fostering women’s participation lays the groundwork for an inclusive society and augments the overall progress of the country. By neglecting the contributions of at least half of the community, there exists a significant oversight in acknowledging the potential for holistic societal advancement. Timacade urged government representatives to recognize that advocating for women’s rights is intrinsic to societal welfare, encompassing inclusivity, democratic values, good governance, and the trajectory toward a progressive society.
Umalkeir Abdiwahab, representing the Somaliland National Human Rights Commission, echoed Timacade’s sentiments, emphasizing the urgency for the government to swiftly enact laws and policies that uphold women’s rights and preserve their dignity. In response, government representatives highlighted the strides made in this regard while acknowledging the necessity of ongoing and proactive steps.
A pivotal moment of the event was a panel discussion that engaged participants in posing questions to the speakers. This open dialogue fostered a deeper understanding of the multifaceted challenges encountered by women and girls, the existing legal gaps, and the critical importance of collective action in combating gender-based violence.
The event culminated in a comprehensive acknowledgment of the complexities faced by women and girls, recognition of legal shortcomings, and a unified stance on the paramount significance of collective efforts in combating GBV.
Through insightful discourse and collaborative engagement, SIHA Network’s event catalyzed advocating women’s rights, urging concrete actions from both the government and civil society to effect positive change in safeguarding the dignity and equality of all citizens.
As part of its participation in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, SIHA Network additionally hosted a groundbreaking outreach advocacy event. The event went beyond conventional settings, taking place within internally displaced persons (IDP) and minority communities. This unique approach aimed to directly engage with the lived experiences of women and girls in these marginalized settlements.
Women representing these communities bravely stepped forward to articulate the profound challenges they face solely due to their gender. One stark revelation was the surge in instances of violence against women and girls, particularly incidents of rape and sexual violence. They attributed this increase to the pervasive darkness enveloping the IDP camps at night, leaving them vulnerable to attacks. Additionally, the arduous journeys undertaken by girls to fetch water, covering considerable distances, further exposed them to risks.
In a poignant plea directed at the government, these courageous women demanded immediate action to address these pressing concerns. Their primary requests were twofold: the illumination of streets within the IDP camps to ensure safer surroundings during the night and the facilitation of water accessibility closer to the camps. These essential measures were passionately advocated as critical steps toward mitigating the threats faced by women and girls in these marginalized communities.
Expressing gratitude to SIHA Network for organizing the event within their communities, the women emphasized the significance of this direct engagement. They articulated that speeches delivered in upscale hotels often failed to grasp the essence of their struggles. Sitting amongst them, empathizing with their challenges, and working hand in hand was deemed a genuine and impactful advocacy effort.
SIHA Network’s decision to bring advocacy directly to these marginalized communities underscored its commitment to amplifying voices that are frequently silenced or overlooked. Through this event, the organization continues to exemplify a grassroots approach to advocacy, prioritizing the experiences and needs of those most affected by gender-based violence.
As the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign progresses, SIHA Network’s initiative stands as a beacon, inspiring more inclusive and impactful advocacy efforts that resonate with the realities faced by women and girls in marginalized communities.