Mogadishu, March 8 2021 \u2013 The Head of the AU Mission in Somalia, Francisco Caetano Madeira wishes all female peacekeepers serving on the mission and women across the world, happy commemoration of the International Women\u2019s Day, and salutes them for contributing towards the achievement of a peaceful, safe and secure Somalia and Africa. \tThis year, while we are unable to gather physically as we have traditionally done, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, we take this opportunity to reflect on and recognise the role that women play in our communities as leaders, peacemakers, mentors and nurturers. \tAMISOM supports and promotes gender equality as a key anchor for realisation of Africa\u2019s development ambitions as outlined in the Agenda 2063.\u00a0 A key standard against which our social progress and development is measured, is the level of investment in women and girls, through ensuring the equal access to opportunities such as in education, the workplace and justice. Also, the African Charter on Human and People\u2019s Rights on the Rights of Women (Maputo Protocol) adopted by the AU member states in 2003, advocates for the safeguarding of the rights of women and girls on the continent. \tWe have a duty to ensure that the dream for a prosperous Africa does not leave behind our mothers, sisters and daughters. Whilst security is a male-dominated area, AMISOM advocates for workplace policies that promote inclusiveness, and ensure that women have access to equal opportunities as men, to participate in decision-making on matters relating to peace and security. \tThe theme for this year\u2019s IWD celebration of \u201cChooseToChallenge\u201d, is also a timely reminder to us as we prepare for the parliamentary and presidential elections in Somalia. The Somalia National Consultative Council (NCC) at the 17th September 2020 meeting gave its support to the 30% quota for Somali women in the coming parliamentary elections. All stakeholders in Somalia must now rise to the challenges of ensuring that the 30% quota is achieved in the coming 11th Parliament in Somalia both at the federal and state levels. \tI would like to singularly salute the brave female uniformed personnel of the Somali Security Forces and AMISOM, who selflessly are on the frontlines, fighting for the restoration of peace and security in Somalia and Africa. \tAMISOM would like to applaud the progress the Federal Government of Somalia has made so far in women\u2019s empowerment, the promotion of women\u2019s political participation and protecting women from gender-based violence and conflict-related sexual violence. AMISOM stands with the people of Somalia to ensure a peaceful and secure Somalia and promote causes for gender equality, women\u2019s increased participation in politics, peace and security initiatives. Happy Women\u2019s Day!