Today, the European Union, the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member States celebrated the International Women’s Day 2018 at an event held at the 11 Janaayo Model School in Mogadishu.
The 2018 International Women’s Day theme is “Press for Progress”; it is a call-to-action to advance equality between men and women, boys and girls. The theme is aimed at motivating and uniting governments, NGOs and communities to think, act and be gender inclusive. To this end, a series of mentorship events for girls in Mogadishu were conducted on 6th and 7th March 2018, aimed at showcasing the successes of various women in Somalia.
At the ceremony, the EU Deputy Ambassador to Somalia, Mr. Fulgencio Garrido Ruiz, encouraged all young girls “to dream high, aim high, and don’t spare efforts to achieve you dreams. Pursue your dreams and they will become a reality”. He further added that: "The EU remains a close partner of the Federal Government of Somalia. Gender equality is at the core of European values. The EU is at the forefront of the protection and promotion of human rights. In Somalia, the EU is actively engaged in supporting Somali girls and women to have equal opportunities to realize their fullest potential and will continue to do so in collaboration with our partners”.
The Minister for Women and Human Rights Development, H.E. Deqa Yassin said: "I greet all Somali women within and outside the country. Education is the key that unlocks the potential of Somali women. I therefore call upon all Somalis to ensure our girls and women are extended unfettered access to quality education in order to sustain peace and development in Somalia”.
During the event, the EU and the Federal government officials also launched an education project – Support to Education and Training in Somalia (SETS) – worth EUR 9 million. The project among other activities will implement measures that expand education and training opportunities for Somali girls and women. This is indeed recognition of the central role education plays in the empowerment of girls and women. The project builds on past support to the sector and will be implemented by a consortium comprised of ADRA (lead), Relief International, CISP, American Refugee Committee and World Vision.
"On behalf of the Somalis, I appreciate EU’s support to education that has given hopes to many girls and women. Education has a truly empowering effect enabling people to overcome vulnerabilities occasioned by the conflicts and environmental shocks such as droughts. The sector support project that we launch here today will go a long way in consolidating the gains made so far while creating new education opportunities in previously underserved areas”, said the State Minister for Education, Culture & Higher Education H.E. Abdirahman Mohamud Abdulle.
EU support to gender equality
Through a combination of interventions largely implemented by international and Somali NGOs, the EU is supporting Somali women to participate in formal and informal decision making and have their voice heard; is committed to promote women's contribution to conflict resolution, reconciliation and broader political processes; is strengthening Somali actors and institution to respond to gender based violence and protect victims; and is supporting women through livelihood training and post training support in order to reduce social exclusion and build community resilience.
Globally, the EU "Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019" has five priority areas: increasing female labour-market participation and the equal economic independence of women and men; reducing the gender pay, earnings and pension gaps and thus fighting poverty among women; promoting equality between women and men in decision-making; combating gender-based violence and protecting and supporting victims; and promoting gender equality and women's rights across the world.