Date: 6 September 2016
Topic: This is a report for the period 1 May to 31 August 2016, on the implementation of resolution 2275 (2016) and paragraph 44 of Security Council resolution 2297 (2016) for United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), along with any challenges faced by the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) in carrying out its mandate.
Women, Peace and Security Introduction
During the reporting period the political process intensified ahead of upcoming elections, which are constitutionally mandated to uphold, for the first time, specific representation quotas for women holding public office. Women were involved in making decisions for future elections and political processes, however, women in all of these roles faced obstacles such as discrimination and violence from both domestic groups and non-state armed groups. This report includes 17 references to the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda, with ten to participation and seven to protection, an overall increase in scope and quantity since the previous report, which had 13. Overall this report references the WPS agenda largely in terms of political participation.
Human rights, women and peace and security, and children and armed conflict
While engagement with WPS on a political level made progress, resources for development and human rights are lacking. With UN support, a national gender policy was approved by the Federal Cabinet to pave the way for the institutionalization of gender mainstreaming and women, peace and security and an advocacy committee of goodwill ambassadors was established for the realization of reserving 30 per cent of parliamentary seats for women. Yet, women often “work in the household” and “fall outside the labor force,” which is reportedly half unemployed. Although 58 per cent of children who were educated between January and June 2016 are girls, this does not enhance job prospects for young Somalis. The human rights situation, including the protection of women and children, continues to concern the Secretary-General. Violations of human rights, including sexual violence, rape and detention of children are increasing, yet are reported with sex-disaggregated data sporadically. Protections for women, children and the prevention of sexual violence remain weak, with internally displaced persons and civilians affected by conflict at particular risk. 506 incidents of grave violations against children were recorded during the reporting period, affecting 780 children, including 147 girls. Additionally, 14 AMISOM soldiers allegedly raped two teenage girls, though AMISOM could not “justify convening a board of inquiry,” and seven men were convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl who were all sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and heavy fines.
Although an indicator of improvement, reference to the national gender policy should have detailed women’s involvement in the design and advocacy efforts for implementation of the plan, and a statement about how the plan will pave the way for institutionalization of gender considerations. Reference to labor could have been improved by discussing obstacles to women’s participation in the labor force and recognition that women and men are affected, targeted, and participate differently in the labor force. Certainly, sex disaggregated data on children’s education is important, but it could have been improved by indicating plans to sustain female education as a means of empowerment. Furthermore, the discussion of prevention of sexual violence should have recognized that women and girls are also particularly at risk, especially because terrorist, violent extremist groups like Al-Shabaab (AS), which is active in Somalia, targets women and girls in areas under their control and uses sexual violence as a tactic of war, as recognized in WPS resolution 2242 (2015) which is recalled in the mission mandate. Finally, initiatives that could potentially strengthen prevention of sexual violence mentioned in the previous report were not discussed in the present report, but incorporating their efficacy would greatly contextualize the continuously underreported and seemingly bleak situation for survivors. For example, a pilot women and children protection unit within the Somali police force was deployed and sexual offences bill was finalized in the previous reporting period. States in post-conflict situations should consult with women’s organizations to specify women and girls needs, priorities and strategies to address them, including support for greater physical security and better socioeconomic conditions and education, among other things, as per WPS SCR 1889 (2009).
Women’s inclusion in political processes is referenced twice in the context of . Following the conclusion of a reconciliation process between the President of the Interim Jubba Administration and the Marehan clan, the President announced the formation of a new 34-member cabinet that includes one female minister. In relation to the review of the Provisional Federal Constitution, two workshops were held, during which women and youth representatives from all regions of Somalia identified priorities and recommendations and conveyed these to the Oversight Committee.
An improvement would be to discuss women’s involvement in and the content of the reconciliation process leading up to the newly formed cabinet, in order to contextualize appointment of only one woman and see the relationship between those processes. In terms of the constitutional review process, the Secretary-General could have improved the reference by discussing women’s priorities and recommendations that resulted from the workshop, as well as any outcomes and future plans for inclusion and sustainability of these workshops. Similarly, the report missed an opportunity to include information about women’s engagement with the exercises on lessons learned and the way forward on the constitutional process, which was launched by UNSOM and UNDP and involved local and international actors who assessed the situation, as per SCR 2122 (2013), OP 8. Also, given the political contention surrounding women’s political participation in Somalia and plans for universal suffrage, reporting more information about women’s engagement in these processes remains crucial to understanding barriers and obstacles posed by specific actors. It is paramount that all actors recognize women can play a key role in reestablishing the fabric of a recovering society, take into account women’s perspectives and needs, as well as ensure women’s involvement in the development and implementation of post-conflict strategies, as per WPS Resolution 1889 (2009).
Somalia is undergoing political transformation and women’s representation remains a central issue: UN entities conducted related activities and the Secretary-General discusses related issues in the Observations section. The National Leadership Forum made four WPS-related decisions regarding elections. First, it instructed clan elders to hold specific seats for women (in line with the 30 per cent quota). Second, it decided 30 per cent of electoral colleges will be women. Third, it decided registration fees for female candidates would be half those of men. Lastly it called for 50 per cent of candidates for the Upper House to be female but did not actually call for reserving any of these seats. Analysis is offered on the process: “The onus is now on clan elders to ensure that those targets are met.” However, the gender imbalance in decision-making bodies was deepened and women’s political participation is being adversely affected. Two of the three female Federal Cabinet ministers were dismissed and replaced by male candidates, and women leaders and aspiring candidates are operating under increased fear and intimidation, in part because religious scholars denounced the national gender policy, women’s political participation and the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development, although they later said it was a mistake.
UNSOM and UNDP supported the Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team, mandated to oversee uniformity in implementation of the electoral process, which includes 7 women on its 22 member team, and UNSOM held joint training on comparative electoral systems, in preparation for universal elections in 2020, for several federal bodies including officials from the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development among others. The Secretary General states that it is critical to implement a credible and transparent electoral process with the participation of all sectors of Somali society, including women, youth and minorities, calling for clan elders to agree on a mechanism to implement reserving 30 per cent of parliamentary seats for women, stating that Somali women’s voices must be heard in politics, and commending women’s rights activists and civil society members working towards this end. Moreover, in the context of the electoral process, he is “seriously concerned” by threats and intimidation towards candidates, civil society, women’s leaders and activists, and journalists.
These references could have been improved by citing specific WPS Resolutions to further justify priorities. Regarding electoral processes, the Secretary-General could have called on Resolutions 1889 (2009) and 2122 (2013), especially the former, which states that organizations should take further steps to enhance women’s participation and “engagement in political and economic decision-making” which can entail, “countering negative societal attitudes about women’s capacity to participate equally.” Citing this would lend further agency to those working to counter clan resistance and mitigate threats. The Secretary-General missed an opportunity to call on these resolutions or use similar capacity-building language in the Observations section, as this section is critical for prioritizing the further Security Council action.
International cooperation and coordination
Security Council members engaged with representatives of Somali civil society and women’s groups, reportedly enhancing United Nations efforts to strengthen women’s representation and political participation. While this may lend perceived legitimacy and exposure to women’s representation, the report could be improved by referencing content, duration and number of groups that the Council met with, in order to assess the substantiveness. The report misses the opportunity to elaborate on gender considerations incorporated in the a comprehensive approach to security in Somalia, set out by the Special Representative, which encompasses five areas: enhancing AMISOM capability; strengthening the Somali security forces; community recovery and extending State authority; countering and preventing violent extremism, including through political engagement; and ensuring coherent support by the international community in those areas. It also does not report whether women participated in the forum discussion of the plan, neither design and implementation, nor if there was a gender advisor during development.
Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation
Mandates for the missions reported on during this period include scant WPS references. It is possible that politics are the focus largely due to hopes that their election will bring transformational change and while this is certainly likely and constitutes admirable progress that should be supported to the utmost extent, it cannot be assumed to fix or address all issues facing women. Women need to be supported with more explicit resources, funding, protection and agency in five general areas in order to transform their situation, including: rule of law (RoL), humanitarian situation, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), security sector reform (SSR) and countering terrorism/violent extremism. To the latter point, women should be integral to countering violent extremism, preventing violent extremism , and counterterrorism. A specific entry point is the “Tubta Toosan” (right path) initiative for countering violent extremism that is being developed. This is particularly salient because curbing the threat from Al-Shabaab must go beyond the military. In terms of SSR, international partners are advising Somali stakeholders on possible models for Somalia’s national security architecture, and the report should have explicitly stated that women are included as stakeholders and in advising exercises, otherwise it can be assumed not to be true. Perhaps more importantly, women should be leading the community recovery approach, which would represent crucial inclusion at the security decision- making table: community recovery and the extension of State authority is a key dimension of a comprehensive approach to security in Somalia. Regarding RoL, discussions among federal and regional stakeholders on Somalia’s future justice and corrections model, which aims to be sustainable and harmonized, are underway, but was also entirely gender blind, so are references to the 2017-2019 National Development Plan, the first of its kind in Somalia since 1982, reportedly drafted though an “inclusive process.” With 69 per cent of Somalia’s population living below the poverty line, the country cannot afford to ignore women’s agency and contributions. At minimum, the report should have included socioeconomic sex-disaggregated data in order to contextualize the situation and facilitate development of a gender lens to be part of the macroeconomic-focused development plan.