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UK International Development Minister champions increased political participation for women to boost Somalia’s economic development

Storyline:National News



20 NOVEMBER 2014


Baroness Northover has emphasised the importance of women participating in Somalia’s politics to further the country’s development during the Somalia New Deal High-Level Forum in Copenhagen yesterday.

She was joined on the panel by Somalia’s Minister of Women and Human Rights Development Khadija Diriye and Minister of Interior Abdullahi Godah Barre, who both spoke about Somalia’s progress in increasing the political participation of women. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addressed the event to express his personal commitment strengthening the role women play in Somalia’s political structures.

In her keynote speech Baroness Northover highlighted the pivotal role of women in holding Somalia together through years of conflict and instability commenting:

“Over years of war, and through the transitional period, women have held Somalia together.

“As mothers, as carers for the injured, and as breadwinners … women have been peacemakers on the front line.

“Behind the scenes, women in Somalia have helped to keep discussions going between combative groups.”

She also noted their importance to the economy, with studies suggesting that 60 per cent of Somalia’s national income is generated by women and that 80 per cent of families rely on women’s

DFID’s work in Somalia is helping to empower women to gain access to justice, tackle violence against women, hold decision makers to account and to reap the rewards of their work.

From 2010 to 2013, DFID programmes created 56,900 jobs in Somalia, of which 21,600 are for women.

Baroness Northover and the Foreign Secretary joined their counterparts in the international community and the Somali government at the New Deal High-Level Partnership Forum (HLPF) to discuss progress on the Somalia New Deal Compact.

Agreed in 2013, the Compact promised Somalia £1.6 billion in development assistance and set a three-year roadmap towards peace-building and strengthening of a functional federal Somalia.

The UK is a lead donor and is the only EU country with a permanent diplomatic mission in Mogadishu.

Decades of war and humanitarian crisis mean that Somalia is one of the most challenging environments in the world for women. Girls and women disproportionately suffer from violence and instability: 1 in 16 women will die during childbirth and 1 in 10 will die during her reproductive years.

FGM in Somalia is almost universal with prevalence rates of 98 percent. At the Girl Summit this year the UK pledged to help the Federal Government of meet its pledge to end FGM and has committed £35 million to the regional UN Joint Programme to stop the practice.