Hawa Feminist Coalition Observes The International Day Of The Girl 2023 With An Emphasis On Child Marriage In Somalia

In commemoration of International Day of the Girl, the Hawa Feminist Coalition organized an event attended by some key young feminist activists and members of the Hawa movement. The event was held on the afternoon of October 10, 2023, a day before October 11, which is a day annually observed to advocate for the full spectrum of girls’ rights.


On this occasion, the young feminist activists focused on early marriage and how this has affected the lives of young girls in Somalia. They discussed and talked about the root causes of early marriage and the effects this has on Somali girls. This has been a sustained norm for parents to marry their daughters at a young age, partly in the belief of a better life but also due to poverty and gender inequality. Apart from the gender inequality that is deeply rooted in Somali society, there are other factors behind early marriage, which include economic burdens and poverty, as families take bridedowry as income in the marriage of their daughters.

This miserable practice has only increased in recent years, mainly as a means for families to reduce their economic problems and as a matter of survival. The everlasting conflict and political instability are also other factors that greatly contribute to early marriage. The worsening climate change, and repeated droughts in Somalia are also other drivers greatly contributing to the increase of early marriage among young girls in Somalia.


These multi-generational and gendered norms remained a means of ensuring family honor, securing economic stability, or controlling female sexuality. In the rural Somalia community, 9–15-year-old girls usually drop out of school early. Social norms and gender stereotypes mean that girls are not encouraged to stay in school, with the belief that marriage and child rearing are the only options available to them and should be their only aim in life. There is also a belief in the Somalia community that girls who stay in school and complete their education will find it harder to get married.


“I want people to know that just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean that I’m less favored. People should understand that we have the same capacity as boys and can do better than them if equal rights are given.” Said Sumaya Shirdon, young feminist activist and a senior member of Hawa Feminist Coalition.

“There are many girls who are not as brave as I am, but I like to appeal to all girls in Somalia to not be silent about the problems they are facing. If you don’t speak up and claim your rights, no one will speak up for you.” Said Fatima Farah, a young feminist activist.


The effects of early marriage undermine girls’ and young women’s health, psychosocial wellbeing, and overall quality of life. Early marriage could also lead to other high-risk behaviors, such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Ikran Hassan, a young feminist activist, briefly presented a study that she had conducted earlier, which shows that more than 50% of the young women addicted to drugs and chewing Khat in Somalia were married at a young age.

Days before the International Day of the Girl, there has been a young woman suffering serious mental illness as a result of being physically and sexually abused by her husband. This news was widely circulated on social media, which saddened the Somali people. This is a prime example of the effects of early marriage among girls and has been a good example that attracted many people who condemned the practice and called for a total ban on early marriage in Somalia.


“If you visit the mental health centers across Somalia, you can see many young women suffering mental problems as result of early marriage.” Said Amina, a young feminist activist and MPHS worker.

“I encourage every girl who faces the consequences of early marriage to stand up for saving other girls from this kind of evil practice. Don’t stay silent on these atrocities against girls.” Said Fosia Dahir, a young feminist and member of Hawa Feminist Coalition.


“I ask every girl to share her story publicly; this is the best way we can stop the early marriage practice in Somalia.…..” Said Mariam Abdullahi
.

This was significant occasion marked the rise of young feminist activists who vocalized their firm opposition to early marriage and demanded the immediate end of such practices.

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.

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16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign calling for an end to violence against women and girls. It takes place every year and begins on the 25th November, the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women and finishes on Human Rights Day, the 10th of December.

Usually on this occasion, Hawa Feminist Coalition undertakes series of awareness rising campaigns and conducts range of activities such as creating and publishing stories, messages and reports illustrating the experience, prevalence and thoughts of gender-based violence (GBV)  as well as sharing messages of solidarity and commitment to take action for an end of GBV.

You too can connect and join the campaign by creating your own stories, art and contents or further distributing our messages and stories in your social media networks. You can share with us your stories or strong messages to stop the violence and end the silence.

Hawa Feminist Coalition prepares the below social media graphics and messages that you can use for raising awareness during the activism days, post or redistribute through the online platforms.

Mention us in your social media posts and use the following hashtags to see and count in your contributions in the trends.

Hashtags: #16Days #orangetheworld #endGBV #orangeday #StopTheViolence #GenerationEquality

Our Social media accounts: Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , LinkedIn

Send messages to:  16days@femsom.org

Engaging and building capacity, collaboration with young activists in Garowe

Mariam M. Hussein, a co-founder and member of Hawa Feminist Coalition provides brief training for some young activists in Garowe. Ms. Hussein met handful young activists; young women and men in Garowe who advocate range of issues – from youth rights to girls education in Garowe where she shared organizing, advocacy techniques and importance of collective actions.

These young activists who have been curious to learn new skills and experience to further their activism capacity have had a opportunity to discuss the power of collective actions and possible collaboration with Hawa Feminist Coalition in some common shared matters such as youth rights, GBV and improvement of girls rights in Puntland, Somalia.

This has been fruitful session that opened new opportunities and collaborations for these young activists who have firm commitment to pursuing a change. Furthermore, these young activists and Hawa Feminist Coalition will have collaboration on common shared matters such as advocating for girls rights and will also have information and knowledge exchange as well as initiating collective actions in the future.

Ms. Hussein together with other members of Hawa Feminist Coalition is going to approach and engage young activists in the path of promoting the safety, justice and dignity of young women and girls in Somalia.  

Hawa Feminist Coalition advocates promotion of sex-disaggregated data in the event of commemoration of Open Data Day 2021

In commemoration of Open Data Day; an annual celebration event held all over the world in the first week of March in every year, Hawa Feminist Coalition organized an online event on March 6, 2021 via Zoom with agenda of advancing the production, dissemination and openness of sex-disaggregated data in Somalia.

The event was held in online due to COVID-19 restrictions, participated by 19 participants from UN, International NGOs and Local NGOs as well as independent activists. The participants had interactive discussions covering the data gaps, weaknesses and the need to strengthen sex-disaggregated data in Somalia for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by 2030.  

Shared Experiences, Gaps And Ideas Related To Sex-disaggregated Data In Somalia

Ms. Linda Mohamed from Hawa Feminist Coalition and also chairing the meeting presents short presentation highlighting how data segregated by gender is vital to evaluate the measures taken to narrow the gender gap. Ms. Mohamed also highlights how availability of segregated data could help to end all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls in Somalia.

Mr. Abdikhayr Hussein from Bareedo Platform, a local NGO that promotes participatory democracy presents the importance of open data and that openness of sex-disaggregated data is prerequisite to achieving gender equality in Somalia.

Ms. Anab Ali from Ministry of Women Affairs shows the participants about how sex-disaggregated data is significant to measuring the gender gap in education, political empowerment, health and survival, and economic participation in Somalia.

After short presentations, participants shared the following experiences, concerns and ideas that are related to sex-disaggregated data:-

  • Somalia is a country located on the horn of Africa, with a population of almost 14 million people. Although women and girls in Somalia consist of 50% of the country’s population, women and men are far from equal.
  • The gender inequality in Somalia is exacerbated by poverty, social class and harmful practices that violate the rights of women and girls. Today, women in Somalia are susceptible to gender-based violence and sexual violence, an issue that is heightened in areas of conflict.
  • The full adoption of sex-disaggregated data is less tapped in Somalia where gender equality is ranked fourth-lowest globally, maternal and infant mortality rates are also some of the highest in the world, and early marriage is prevalent.
  • Humanitarian sector shows progress on disaggregation of data by gender although it is still needs further improvements.
  • Major vital services or projects led by the government are yet to fully apply disaggregation of data by gender with less than 21% of government’s data shows some form of sex-disaggregation .
  • Private sector shows limited adoption of disaggregation of data by gender and some even see this to be less noteworthy.
  • There is incoherent collaboration between the government, private sector and civil society in adoption of disaggregation of data by gender.
Recommendations

In conclusion of the shared experiences, concerns and ideas that are related to sex-disaggregated data, participants suggest the following important recommendations in line with strengthening disaggregation  of data by gender in Somalia.

  • Government, private sector, civil society and other stakeholders need to work together toward adoption of disaggregation  of data by gender effectively to address gender inequality that remained highest globally in Somalia.
  • Partners and stakeholders engaged in gender equality or promotion of rights of women and girls should come up continues advocacy and follow up mechanisms to ensure successful take-up of sex-disaggregated data policies in government, private and civil society.
  • The production and openness of sex-disaggregated data need to be encouraged in the occasions of commemoration of International Women’s Day and other related events.
  • Particular forums, evens and talk shows should be organized to advocate, strengthen this matter among the different stakeholders and partners in Somalia.

This was an opportunity to show the benefits of open data and encourage the adoption of sex-disaggregated data policies in government, business and civil society.  We hope to keep the conversation going! 

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Further inquires, please contact:- Ms. Linda Said Mohamed Tell: +252 906 892740 Email: linda@femsom.org

Join us in promotion of sex-disaggregated data in the event of commemoration of Open Day 2021

Open Data Day is an annual celebration of open data all over the world. Groups from around the world create local events on the day where they will use open data in their communities. It is an opportunity to show the benefits of open data and encourage the adoption of open data policies in government, business and civil society.

Hawa Feminist Coalition plans to hold an online event to commemorate Open Day 2021 on March 6, 2021 at 10:00AM via Zoom. The agenda of the event is to advance the production, dissemination and openness of sex-disaggregation of development data in Somalia and will take place in online with participation of 21 participants and countless viewers who are expected to watch the event live at online platforms. The event will be included presentations that to be made by representatives from UN, International NGOs or Local NGOs.

The discussions will cover the data gaps, strengthens and the need to strengthen sex-disaggregated data for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by 2030. These will be followed by group discussions covering on how to use open data a) to end all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls everywhere, b) to measure the gender gap in education, political empowerment, health and survival, and economic participation and opportunity, and c) way-forwards to ensure open data is fully applied as a prerequisite to achieving gender equality in Somalia.

Hawa Feminist Coalition is highly appreciated and welcomes your participation to the meeting and register at this link: https://forms.gle/VRxmxMpL8tV2kE3N7. After registration, you will receive the participation details right to your email.

Looking forward to your participation to the #ODD2021 event!

CONGRATULATIONS! Our Sister Mariam Hussein participates in WOW’s International Day of the Girl 2020

Women of the World Foundations celebrates 2020’s International Day of the Girl and is bringing together 40 young activists from around the world to build a community and share knowledge. In this year, one of our members Ms. Mariam M Hussein is listed at WOW’s Young Leaders Directory and participates in the event.

Mariam is a feminist activist advocating for the safety, equality, justice, rights and dignity of young women and girls in Somalia where women bear an unequal brunt of hardships occasioned by poverty, conflict and clan-based culture which promotes strict male hierarchy and authority. Mariam is an active member of Hawa Feminist Coalition, young feminists movement in Somalia.

Mariam’s story together with other incredible young activists, leaders and campaigners. Check it out here: Young Leaders Directory│ Hashtags: #DayOfTheGirl, @WOWisGlobal

Bringing Information on Prevention and Symptoms of COVID-19 to the Marginalized People in Puntland

The people in hard-to-reach areas, the internally displaced people, migrants and refugees are more at risk of contracting COVID-19 and are more susceptible to complications, owing to cramped living conditions in camps, camp-like settings and urban slums; poor nutritional and health status; limited access to sanitation, health care and reliable information and other social and cultural obstacles. With limited information and updates offered to the public in this challenging time, misinformation and a lack of understanding about the potential consequences and impacts of COVID-19 takes shape leading to widespread confusion, fear and complicating efforts to prevent further transmission, reduce the impacts of the outbreak and support control measures.


For this reason, Hawa Feminist Coalition mobilized its volunteers with health background to raise public awareness campaigns to bring information on prevention and symptoms of the disease to the internally displaced people, migrants and refugees and people living in hard-to-reach areas to keep people safe and informed during the Coronavirus public health crisis.


They carry out in Garowe, Bosaso, Qardho, Herojale, Bursalah, Saho, Jidad, Kardush and Hurdiya in Puntland, Somalia. They have been coordinating and following guidelines from the state health authority, WHO Field Office and Association of Health Volunteers for verification of information about Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as well as avoiding activity overlaps.


They use several methods such as outreach missions, using local media, social media platforms, outdoor posters and soundtracks to reach target population with accurate information about Coronavirus symptoms and preventive measures and guidelines to keep people safe and informed during the pandemic. During the campaign, they have also employed another unique method where the local community elders are engaged to further promote information sharing within their community to ensure the marginalised people and people living in hard to reach areas are aware of basic information about Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including its symptoms, complications, how it is transmitted and how to prevent transmission in order to get rid of fake information/myths that may circulate by word-of-mouth.


These campaigns reached about 50,000 internally displaced people, refugees, migrants and drought affected people living in Puntand, Somalia who lacked the access to the internet or other information sources to survive the onslaught of COVID-19.


Hawa Feminist Coalition will continue the awareness rising and reaching to the people living in the remote areas or isolated areas.