I had the opportunity of attending the Somali Women’s Peace Conference which took place on 30th Nov till 02nd Dec 2011 at Kempinski Djibouti. This conference was organized by the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) based in Addis Ababa – Ethiopia.
The main aim of the conference was to bring together Somali women practitioners, scholars and policy makers to engage in round table discussion on “African solutions” to the current conflict in Somalia, and also to contribute to drafting a comprehensive Somalia security strategy. Also to explore women’s perspective on security, peace and governance issues and increase the role of women in peacebuilding initiatives.
All thirty five participants were women and were representatives from civil society, Diaspora community, members of the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) parliament, NGO (Non Governmental Organization) workers, UNWomen, UNPOS, university lecturers and youth.
The main discussion points were: Who provides citizen’s security and reasons behind them, who provides security for citizens in the absence of strong government and how they provide security, top factors that are working in providing security by the state (where the state is functioning) and why they are working, and finally identifying other collective security mechanisms that are working in Somalia, reasons they are working and ways of improving those mechanisms.
In the discussions, participants were divided into four groups, each group discussed the research questions profoundly. After each group presented, there were plenary discussions to identify consensus points of all groups. Each point was considered as an issue of consensus of the conference if it was seconded from any other group. Then those consensus points were discussed by the conference participants.
At the end of the conference, participants suggested few points including:
To carry in-depth research on the security strategy paper the institution is planning to produce, by meeting different sectors of the society and visiting wherever is possible and secure within the country.
All funding organizations should inquire Political parties to have defined women quotas in their parties and make it a requirement.
To involve women in the institute’s activities (IPSS), collaborate with them and include them in their decision making level
Create space for women who are in the houses by giving them incentives to come out of the houses n participate into the civil society (which needs funding) giving them trainings n then they could participate.
To make regular conference/meetings similar to this conference, to look at the complexities, women’s different backgrounds, IPSS institution to have more involvement with women groups/umbrellas, to create spaces for women in the decision making and to allocate defined quotas for women in the decision making meetings.
I hope the outcome of the conference will be implemented the way it should be and won’t be like many other conferences whose outcome was left there and never been implemented. I should keep enquiring what and how the progress is going on.
Apart from the conference, I had the biggest opportunity of meeting a sister from Pulsewire, a lady who always inspires me with her dedication, hard work and women’s advocacy. Sahra Koshin is also one of the 2011 Voices of Our Future Correspondents, a talented young lady who accomplished so much in her younger age. This was the first time we met in person although we were virtually friends for over a year.