Somaliland, which is often praised to be the beacon of democracy in the Horn of Africa, has a vast majority of young people mostly women. 70 percent of the population is estimated to be under 35 years old. This huge force, however, does not still have their space in democratization processes and politics as well which are mainly dominated by the elder generation. To bridge this gap, a consortium of four local organizations have kicked off a new project entitled “Expanding Civic Space, Empowering Youth and Women to Contribute to the Governance and Development Processes in Somaliland”. This newly launched project is funded by the European Union and will be targeting all major electoral districts in the country.
On Saturday afternoon 7/03/2020, a highly organized event aimed to officially launch the project took place in Maansoor Hotel, Hargeisa. Guests from different backgrounds including; ministers, ambassadors, civil society members, members of parliament, and youth & women activists attended the launching ceremony. The ceremony formally started with MASAF musical band singing Somaliland’s national anthem.
The Executive Director of YOVENCO NGO, Mr. AbdulAziz Saeed Sallah delivered opening and welcoming remarks on behalf of the consortium. Mr. Sallah has shed light on how the project will give women and youth the space to find innovative solutions to contribute to the governance and development processes in Somaliland. Adding that the project will be counting on the involvement and collaboration of all stakeholders.
Head of Somaliland Caucus parliament committee, Hon. Ibrahim Mahdi Bubaa also spoke at the event pledging his support to the project and women’s political participation. The MP also promised to push forward the current proposed women quota in the elections, which is waiting to pass into law.
Somaliland’s Minister of Planning and National Development delivered his remarks on behalf of Somaliland’s government emphasizing their support towards meeting the objectives of this project. The minister revealed that the government submitted a formal request to the parliament regarding passing a quota for women and minority groups to have their representation in politics.
Swedish Ambassador to Somalia and Somaliland, Staffan Till, who also attended the event, complimented the name of the implementing consortium “DanGuud” which reflects public service. The ambassador also notified the women’s active role in the society and their unmatched wisdom when facing difficulties and decision-making both in the family and in politics. Amb Staffan also expressed the commitment of the Swedish government in supporting developmental interventions and democratization processes in Somaliland.
EU ambassador, H.E Nicolas Berlanga, thanked the implementing consortium. The ambassador also praised the democracy in Somaliland noting that it is an example to the wider region. “The democracy in Somaliland is a good example to the Horn of Africa and it benefits the whole region as well as Europe.” Said Ambassador Berlanga.
At last, the Ambassador concluded his speech signifying the importance of Somaliland’s democratic exercises and elections while urging Somalilanders keep working together in creating a good path for their society.
This EU-funded project will significantly contribute to youth and women get their fair share in governance through mobilizing their efforts and increasing their awareness. The project will also use all kinds of media to surge towards equality and better Somaliland where women are respected and given their constitutional rights.