Mogadishu. A two-day Women’s Peace Forum, first of its kind, has concluded in Mogadishu yesterday, which saw hundreds of civil society women leaders, peace activists, and members of parliaments come together to discuss how to prevent violent extremism and promote peace and stability in Somalia.
The Forum follows six consultations around the country, which took place in Puntland, Hirshabelle, Jubaland, Galmadug and South West State, as well as in Benadir region, and was spearheaded by the Somali National Women’s Organisation.
The Forum is a culmination of the country-wide consultations, to determine ways and strategies to enhance women’s role in peace, reconciliation and the prevention and countering of violent extremism (PCVE) consistent with the national PCVE strategy and national reconciliation framework. Inclusion of women in peacebuilding is a national priority for Somalia.
The Chairperson of the Somali National Women’s Organisation, Batuulo Sheikh Ahmed Gebelle , said in her key note speech that the aim of this Forum was to “come up with a strategy to prevent those spreading extremist ideologies, conduct awareness campaigns, and hold consultations and meetings,” saying that women needed to take a greater leadership role in peace processes.
“We want to clearly show that women are no longer spectators and occupying the backbench in peace initiatives,” she said.
Fartun Abdisalan Adan, the Director of Elman Peace and Human Rights Foundation, highlighted the importance of women taking a front seat in peace and reconciliation efforts. “When it comes to reconciliation, women might just talk, but we are never involved. This is certainly a new beginning for Somali women to really be part of reconciliation and to have peace in Somalia,” she said.
Peter de Clercq, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, congratulated all women representatives participating from across the country for a successful process and bringing the Forum to a successful conclusion.
“Somali women play a key role in supporting their families and communities and keeping society together. Women’s role as peacebuilders and agents of change is more important than ever before,” he said.
The Deputy Special Representative reaffirmed full support of the United Nations for women’s initiatives for peace and reconciliation to materialize the commitments and decisions of this Forum. The Forum was supported by the Royal Netherlands Embassy, and by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) as part of ongoing UN support to peace and stability in Somalia.