Women groups in Somalia have urged the country’s lawmakers to endorse a bill allocating 30% of the house’s seats to women.
Somalia is expected to hold its parliamentary election from later this year, followed by the presidential elections which is scheduled to take place early next year.
Deqa Abdiqasim Salad, CEO of Hear Women, a charity working to strengthen the political voice of women in Somalia told Reuters that the bill is needed to be approved by the house and signed into law before the elections kick off.
“We want this commitment on reserving 30% seats for women to be passed as legislation,” said
Women hold 24% of the 329 seats in Somalia’s lower and upper houses of parliament, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), up from 14% in the previous election.
“We are happy to have achieved 24% in the current parliament, but legislation is necessary to ensure that we do not lose the seats we have and help strengthen democracy by providing for a more representative voice in policy-making,” she said.
Salad is one of more than 135 signatories on a declaration calling for a 30% quota.
Other signatories include Chair of the National Independent Electoral Commission Halima Ismail Ibrahim, prominent doctor Amina Aden Mohamed and women’s rights activist Luul Maxamed Feerayare. Somalia’s 79 female parliamentarians are also co-signatories.
In June, Somalia’s Lower House approved a bill allowing for 30% of parliamentary seats to be reserved for women, but the bill has not been tabled before the upper house for approval.