n African Renaissance - Penetrating cultural frontiers in Somalia : history of women's political participation during four decades (1959-2000)

Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


Somalia is a classic case of a collapsed, post-independence country in which the dissolution of its central state authority brought about a catastrophic civil war. The war began in 1991, and during its first decade, the country received enormous international attention that prompted a US-led, multi-national intervention and numerous reconciliation conferences. In such civil wars, it is women, children, and minorities who are vulnerable and they are victimized the most as a consequence. From this perspective, the war in Somalia was no exception. The patriarchal patterns of Somali society and its dominant political clans meant that women were completely excluded from the 11 failed reconciliation conferences that were held between 1991 and 2000. Ultimately, though, at the 2000 conference, a new approach was adopted. This accommodated all Somalis, including women, who gained a quota of 25 seats (10.5 per cent) from the total of 245 seats comprising the Transitional Interim Parliament. Women's empowerment in the 2000 Somali Peace Conference in Djibouti has particular academic significance because Somalia is a Muslim society characterized by a patriarchal social system that is the embodiment of its Islamic and clannish structures. Moreover, this empowerment coincided with the ascendancy of the political dimensions of Islam and its clan organization, an ascendancy known to present major obstacles to the cause of women.

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