Collaborative Efforts to Achieve Gender Equality and End FGM/C in Somaliland

In a landmark move towards gender equality and the eradication of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C), a delegation from Somaliland recently visited Kenya to garner support and insights from their counterparts in the neighboring country. Led by Hon. Amina Elmi Farid, the only woman member of parliament in Somaliland, the delegation engaged with various stakeholders, including the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) and the Anti-FGM Board, to strategize on ways to address these critical issues in their region.

Somaliland legislator Hon. Amina Elmi Farid (L), with ActionAid International Kenya’s executive director Susan Otieno (C) and Muna Isse Mahad (R) pose for a photo after a meeting on February 29, 2024, in Nairobi.

The commitment displayed by the Kenyan counterparts, particularly the Kenya Women Senators Association and the Anti-FGM Board, underscores the importance of regional collaboration in tackling gender disparities and harmful traditional practices. Senator Hamida Kibwana’s assertion that progress in gender equality cannot be achieved in isolation is a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness of the struggle for women’s rights across borders.

“It’s disheartening that we still only have one woman serving in parliament in Somaliland. As Kenya Women Senators, we are committed to supporting our sister, Hon. Amina Elmi Farid, in her efforts to lobby for increased female representation in parliament, mirroring the progress we’ve made in Kenya.

The journey towards gender equality is like watching a baby learn to crawl before they walk; it takes time and effort. But here we are, ready to advocate and lobby tirelessly for the women of Somaliland. We’re even prepared to extend our efforts beyond borders to mobilize women and amplify their voices in the legislative assembly.” said Hamida.

Somaliland, like many other regions, faces significant challenges in achieving gender equality, with only one woman serving in its parliament. However, the determination expressed by Hon. Amina and her delegation to introduce policies aimed at promoting gender equality and ending FGM/C signals a positive step towards change. By leveraging the experiences and successes of countries like Kenya, Somaliland aims to accelerate its progress in this regard.

“After my enlightening visit to Kenya, I’ve gained invaluable insights, chief among them being the urgent need to introduce the two-thirds gender rule and establish a dedicated directorate to combat gender-based violence, particularly the menace of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C). I extend my gratitude to the Kenyan women parliamentarians for their invaluable insights and their promise to support Somaliland in embarking on the journey towards gender equality. The Kenyan government has been exceptionally resourceful during our visit, and for that, I am sincerely thankful.” – Amina Elmi Farid

The prevalence of FGM/C in Somaliland reported at an alarming 98%, underscores the urgency of concerted action to address this harmful practice. While Kenya has made commendable strides in reducing new FGM/C cases, cross-border FGM/C remains a concerning trend. The commitment of leaders like Hon. Umulkheir Kassim to support Somaliland in combating FGM/C highlights the importance of solidarity in ending this human rights violation.

“My community shares many cultural and experiential similarities with Somaliland, and unfortunately, FGM/C is one of them. We stand in solidarity with you to commence the journey toward ending FGM/C. There is no justification for this practice, as it constitutes a severe violation of women’s rights.” – Umulkheir

Furthermore, the collaborative efforts between Somaliland and Kenya extend beyond parliamentary support to include technical assistance and knowledge-sharing in policy development and implementation. The engagement with organizations such as ActionAid International Kenya and ActionAid International Somaliland, under The Girl Generation project, underscores the significance of partnerships in driving change at the grassroots level.

“I urge our esteemed women legislators and the State Department for Gender and Affirmative Action to seize this moment and fortify the nascent bonds between our nations. Let us harness these connections to propel forward in our collective pursuit of implementing the two-thirds gender rule and eradicating FGM in the Horn of Africa.” Susan Otieno, Executive Director, ActionAid International Kenya

As the delegation from Somaliland returns home with newfound insights and support, the journey towards gender equality and the eradication of FGM/C continues. The commitment of both countries to work together in this endeavor is a testament to the power of collective action in advancing women’s rights and social justice.

Dr. Josephine Obonyo, Secretary Gender in the State Department for Gender and Affirmative Action (L), Somaliland’s MP Hon. Amina Elmi Farid (C) & Samson Orao, AAIK’s programme and strategy lead (R) during a consultative meeting.

In conclusion, the collaboration between Kenya and Somaliland offers a beacon of hope for the millions of women and girls affected by gender inequality and FGM/C in the Horn of Africa. By uniting efforts, sharing resources, and advocating for policy reforms, these nations pave the way for a future where all individuals, regardless of gender, can live free from discrimination and violence.


Author:  Mary Consolata Makokha, Communications Officer ActionAid Kenya. Edited by Ezra Kiriago ,Communications Coordinator ActionAid Kenya.

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