Defending Women Defending Rights is an international campaign launched in 2004 for the recognition and protection of women human rights defenders who are activists advocating for the realization of all human rights for all people. The campaign asserts that women fighting for human rights and all activists defending women’s rights face specific violations as a result of their advocacy or their gender. November 29th is a day of recognition for women human rights defenders. It is a day to commemorate activism, advocacy and courageous acts of resistance. SWDC with the help IOM commemorated this day by holding an open discussion to discuss the challenges and rights of women in the society.
The ceremony was opened by the program coordinator, Mr. Ibrahim. He thanked the participants for their presence and urged the participants to ensure they actively participate in the discussion. He was followed by SWDC’s Legal Aid project coordinator, Nadiya Sufi. She went ahead and informed all present about Convention of Elimination and Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Child rights convention (CRC)
A representative from International Peace and Development Organization, Mohammed, talked about campaign 1325 which was passed by the UN on 31st October 2000. He stated that women rights ought to be advocated from the grass root level. However, the advocacy is limited. He therefore urged all to combine efforts and join hands in fighting for the rights of women.
SWDC’s own, Mrs. Zahra Ahmed, contributed to the discussion by sharing her personal experience. She stated that through her travel to various African countries, she has noted that women face the same challenges. Despite the problems they face, African representatives in international conferences tend to be silent instead of sharing their problems. Furthermore, she expressed her disappointment in the current Somali constitution which does not state anything on women rights.
Anab Hassan who is the vice chairlady national women organization reminded all present of the various problems women have been facing over time. Women are being insulted by husbands and even fathers. They experience forced marriages .In severe cases, the women are severely caned. This has had adverse effects on the women. They are now extremely shy, afraid to make decisions and voice their opinions; they have adopted a mentality that their role is only in child upbringing. Luckily, religious leaders are now embarking on a mission to minimize and even eliminate violence against women. She went ahead and urged parliamentarians to join in the mission to eradicate gender based violence.
One of the male representatives present questioned all the women asking if they are ready to help in the eradication of violence against them. A song condemning violence on women was performed by Halima. She quoted the Quran and saying that women have their rights that should be observed.
The second part of the event was group discussion which its primary objective was to send message to the world as well as to the current Somalia parliament and the outcome was as follows;
- Full recognition of women human right defenders from the government
- Inclusion of WHRD in the current constitution
- Developing policy framework for WHRD based on the Sharia and the constitution
- To give full rights to the WHRDs same as other human right defenders
- To put pressure on producing draft policy of gender in collaboration with parliament, Ministries, civil society organizations and international community
- Finalization of human right road map that has been already announced by the government
- To put pressure on passing gender policy as international
- African governments including Somalia should not refuse accepting and implementing gender policy
- Continuous follow up on the inclusion of WHRD in the current constitution
- Developing new websites for WHRDs to present their ideas and principles
- Provision of international capacity building on human rights for WHRD
- Accountability and transparency on issues related to human rights violations occurring within the country
- Formation of human right commission and anti-corruption committee
- Pressuring the ongoing constitution in achieving the %30 quota of women’s participation in the parliament
- Equality in all aspects of live such as employment, justice, education, political office and decision making
- Constitution amendment in gender and equality to be emphasized before the ongoing constitutional draft is passed out.