50 emerging young female poets were trained on how to compose poetry in a workshop held in Qardho, Somalia

With support of Karibu Foundation, Hawa Feminist Coalition organized a mentoring and coaching for 50 emerging young female poets, mainly from marginalized communities, in a 5-day workshop held in Qardho, Puntland, Somalia, from June 3, 2023, to June 7, 2023. The main objective of this workshop was to mobilize and empower the emerging young female poets in Somalia so that they can use their talent to raise their voice and end patriarchal norms and gender inequality in Somalia.

These young female poets, who were selected from marginalized communities such as minority groups, internally displaced people, and refugees in Qardho, Somalia, are emerging poets who have a strong interest in poetry but need guidance and further learning of how to compose poetry with the help of experienced poets in order to be perfect in this poetry talent.

A female poet who has a great experience in poetry, mentored the young female poets and taught poetry, particularly Buraanbur. Buraanbur is a poetic form that is usually composed by women, and it is a cultural treasure through which Somali women celebrate, inspire, praise, and essentially prove their talents, creativity, and cultural uniqueness. Buraanbur poetry is a powerful communication tool that Somali women and adolescent girls can use to dismantle the structural and systemic roots of gender discrimination and claim their fundamental rights.

Within Somalia’s oral culture, poetry is especially powerful in influencing people’s attitudes, and Somali history provides ample examples of poets who used their art both to fan the flames of war and to bring peace. As a result of this, poetry is a powerful tool that can be used to address and challenge gender-based violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, early marriage, and FGM, which are widespread in Somalia.

With the help, guidance, and coaching of an experienced female poet, these 50 emerging young female poets learned how to compose poetry, particularly Buraanbur, in four days in a row. On the fifth day, the young female poets recited poems as a demonstration of what they had learned. The poems conveyed a range of issues regarding women and girls in Somalia, including awareness messages about ending gender-based violence, including domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, early marriage, and FGM, which remained widespread throughout Somalia. Poems also included messages about the country, patriotism, and the importance of women’s role in society as the backbone of families and communities and requested acknowledgement of that role and the right to equal rights within the community.

Some poems also urged other young women to speak up, learn Buraanbur, and use the poetry to address their needs and bring attention to issues they face, including as gender-based abuse and harmful practices like FGM.

Hawa Feminist Coalition helped the young poets in spreading some of their poems to an audience of up to 200,000 people via social media and local FM radios. These poems promoted awareness among Somali people about the harsh facts of gender-based violence and the negative social norms, harmful beliefs, and practices against women and girls in Somalia. Poems gave these young women a stronger voice and inspired other young women to pursue learning poetry.

The young female poets promised to use their talent to address the issues important to women in Somalia, such as ending rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, children, early and forced marriage and unions, and female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C), all of which are classified as significant human rights violations under international law and have devastating consequences for the health and lives of girls and women.

“For every girl who wants to be heard, I suggest learning Buraanbur. Since the Buraanbur is the sole tool that can aid women, it should be considered and supported…” says a participant in the workshop

“We would need to be driven by ambition and motivated to use the talent we have acquired; however, our aim of attaining equal rights and justice for all will remain unfulfilled if we remain sitting and untapped to our abilities..” says Ms. Yurub Noor, a participant to the workshop and a feminist activist

These young women poets were extended an invitation by Hawa Feminist Coalition to become activists, joining forces with other courageous young women activists who are dedicated to advocating for the rights and justice of women and girls in Somalia. Hawa Feminist Coalition operates as a membership-based organization, and all young women are eligible to become members.

“We have online community platforms such as WhatsApp groups where young feminist activists and other activists, including young female poets, are safe and encouraged to use their voice and collectively raise attention to their rights and needs. You will have the opportunity to interact with other activists and join the movement by receiving the group’s link, which I will provide…” says Ms. Sumaya Shirdon, a senior member from Hawa Feminist Coalition

At the conclusion of the workshop, the young female poets appreciated Hawa Feminist Coalition and the coach for their excellent leadership, facilitation and clear delivery of lessons and practical demonstrations of the workshop. They also expressed gratitude to the funding organization for supporting this important workshop and requested more similar opportunities in the future.

Sports as a Tool to Combat Gender-Based Violence that Has Become Widespread in Somalia

Hawa Feminist Coalition uses sport as a tool to combat gender-based violence that has become widespread in Somalia and also as a way of reducing a girl’s risk of experiencing GBV. As a result of this, Hawa Feminist Coalition organized a series of sport, gaming, and networking events for young women and girls, particularly for the survivors of gender-based violence from marginalized communities such as internally displaced people and refugees in Garowe, Somalia, to promote their physical and mental well-being and also to rebuild their lives and take back control of their bodies after trauma.

With support of ONSIDE Fund, Hawa Feminist Coalition started a sports project in Garowe in October 2022 that lasted until May 2023. The project hired a coach, rented a stadium and provided necessary materials to train girls for sports in Garowe, Somalia.

In this project, 115 girls, aged 5 to 15, were trained in football, the majority of whom are internally displaced people, returned refugees, or members of other marginalized communities in Garowe, Somalia. Under the guidance of a professional female coach, these 115 girls received rigorous training consisting of tactical parts, skill parts, small-sided games, and team building to give them a well-rounded understanding of the game. They have also had opportunities to explore positions, gain an awareness of their strengths, and learn a variety of game skills. The training and gaming events were held in a fun, safe, and supportive environment, considering the deeply patriarchal culture existing in Somalia, where a girl playing football is frowned upon.

This project also helped establish the first five all-girl football groups in Garowe, Somalia. The first group, Araweelo FC, which has 24 members, is named after a legendary and brave queen called Araweelo, who ruled somewhere in Somalia. The second group, Aisha FC, which has 21 members, is named after and in tribute to Aisha Ilyes Aden, a 12-year-old girl who was brutally murdered after being kidnapped, raped, and tortured in 2019 in Galkayo, Somalia. The third group is named Horseed with 19 members, and the fourth and fifth groups have 16 members each.

Hawa Feminist Coalition conducted a competition game for these girl-led sports groups with the participation of 150 young girls as onlookers. These sports events helped these girls feel empowered, get physical and emotional strength, and have the ability to exercise their rights, raise their voices, and begin to challenge the very social barriers, such as inequity, patriarchy, and rigid gender roles that perpetuate gender-based violence and other gender inequalities, that have been prevalent in Somalia. This has also increased girls’ participation in sports in Somalia, where traditionally people see sports as a man’s game.

This has been the most successful achievement for our organization and our girls, despite some challenges due to existing religious and cultural barriers in Somalia that prevent girls from playing sports. Some of the difficulties included the publication of the girls playing sports on social media platforms and bringing male audiences or players to the sports pitch. Furthermore, some of the girls who were not happy with being photographed or having their pictures shared were excluded from the pictures. The principle of ‘Do No Harm’ is key to our organization and programming, and we always protect the privacy and confidentiality of our beneficiaries.

Hawa Feminist Coalition previously organized 31 sports events throughout Somalia to challenge sexual and gender-based violence, including domestic violence, rape, and sexual abuse, that remained widespread throughout Somalia as a result of continued insecurity, weak rule of law, gender inequality, and oppressive cultural practices and norms. Hawa Feminist Coalition also supported and facilitated the establishment of the first five basketball all-girl teams in Somalia and provided them with training and equipment. They have already played 51 games despite existing religious and cultural barriers. Which all improved girls’ health, emotion, self-esteem, and a greater ownership and understanding of their bodies.