Somaliland, a self declared state and internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia has been marred and continues to be marred by violence, terrorism and drought. . Women and girls continue to be economically disadvantaged, politically marginalized and subjected to brutal forms of gender based violence including domestic violence and harmful traditional practices such as FGM and early marriage. Rising rates of incidents characterized by extreme brutality and multiple perpetrators of rape have risen to alarming numbers and are posing a constant threat with 103 rape cases being reported in 2016 according to the Office of the Prosecutor.
The legal framework and justice institutions are characterized by weakness, mistrust and inadequacy, and dominated by traditional strict versions of Islamic Sharia Law. There is a lack of effective institutions to uphold the rule of law and provide based social needs to the disadvantaged group. Discrimination against ethnic minorities is one of the key challenges facing the women’s movements in Somaliland and crimes perpetrated against them are carried out with impunity.
Our Work on Somaliland
Reducing Violence against Women and Girls
SIHA in collaboration with its member organization Women’s Action for Advocacy and Progress (WAAPO) has implemented a community outreach and sensitization campaigns around the harms of GBV and FGM in Statehouse and Daami IDP camps. Nagaad Network, one of SIHA’s members was instrumental in leading the drafting and the advocacy for the first Somaliland Sexual Offences Bill. Once enacted, this will crimanlise rape for the first time. The Bill is not yet enacted and is still pending before the House of Representatives and has been resisted for fourteen months. The resistance faced by the activism was mainly two fold; resistance by some MPs in light of.
Strengthening women’s access to justice and transforming negative and harmful religious and cultural dogma
“Negotiating Change –building a platform for challenging religious militancy and gender disparities in the horn of Africa.”
SIHA is implementing a new project which supports and facilitates a network of civil society organizations, and local community activists to engage representatives in each country. This engagement and dialogue promotes activism in countering growing religious militancy in their communities and countries and addresses gender inequalities and exclusion.
“Advocacy for Justice”
SIHA’s emphasis is on organizational development and capacity building as well as sub-granting local civil society organizations who are working in the sector of political engagement of women. SIHA collaborated with its member organization SOWRAG in initiating this project which built the capacity of women to seek justice and provided training for potential female leaders.
Empowering women economically towards the realization of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR)
State house IDP camp women meeting[/caption]SIHA successively conducted a study on women in the informal economy as informal laborers. The study explored people’s view on Somaliland women who work in the informal economy as tea sellers and investigated if there are policies or procedures in place for the protection of these informal workers.
Member Organizations and Locations of Work
SIHA has been working through its 11 partner organization, as for example Women’s Action for Advocacy and Development Organization (WADA), Nagaad Network, the Somaliland Women’ s Research and Action Group and Voice of Somaliland Minority Women (VSOMOW) (SOWRAG) and the Women Human Rights Education and Environment Association (WHEEA), mainly in Hargeisa, Burao Salahlay and Sheikh.
- “The Other War: Gang rape in Somaliland” as recent trends have shown an alarming rise in sexual violence and especially gang rape in Somaliland, the research aims at identifying the drivers behind those crimes against women.
- “SIHA Community Activism Guide” provides analyses of the significant challenges to community activism encountering women organizations working on human rights in Somaliland. It discusses the vulnerability of women’s rights organizations in relation to the complex political, social and cultural environment.
- “Gender in Crisis: Women in Somaliland’s Informal Economy” The study is looking at the situation of urban poor women informal laborers in contemporary Somaliland under the current socio-political conditions of Somaliland that is contributing to the generation and strengthening of women led informal/marginal economy.