SOMALIA: Somalia Appoints First Ever Women to Ministerial Position

Sunday, January 13, 2013
Standard Digital News
Eastern Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

The appointment of Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Somalia was a bold step by the fledgling government.

It was also a courageous move by Fawzia to accept such a high and risky position in the face of so many previous failures and in the face of continuing instability. She is the first Somali woman to be appointed to such a high level position, a historic achievement for Somali women.

Her appointment was no surprise to those who knew Fawzia and her daring ways. Politically, it was also a show by the President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon that they were ready to overlook obsolete traditions that denigrate women.

For long, Somalia has been categorised as a failed state but with the new leadership, there are great hopes it will rise again to a democracy like it was in the 1970s.

History is on the side of Fawzia who was born in Hargeisa, Somaliland and comes from a prominent and highly educated family.

Her father Yusuf Haji Adam is known as the ‘father of education' in Somaliland and has taught many Somalilanders. He was also a pro-independence activist during the British rule in the 1950s. Fawzia is also the great granddaughter of Sheikh Madar, founder of Hargeisa, capital city of Somaliland.

Outstanding achievements

Fawzia's achievements are many. In 1992, she created, an NGO, Somali Aid and Development to help displaced Somalilanders who were victims of the civil war in Somalia. Through her NGO, she sheltered and assisted over 3,000 orphans and widows. That same year, Fawzia received an award honouring Outstanding Refugee Women in New York from the Women's UN Commission for Refugee Women and Children.

In 2000, she founded the University of Hargeisa, the first ever in Somaliland. Thousands of young Somaliland boys and girls have graduated from this university and are helping drive forward Somaliland and other parts of the world.

She established the university with her own money, time and effort at a time when there was a desperate need for an institution of higher learning in Hargeisa.

Fawzia stood for President of Somaliland in 2004 and, in preparation for the next round of elections in Somaliland in 2011 founded National Democratic Party (NDP). This was the first time in the history of Somalia that a woman created and led a political party in a society that treats them as second rate citizens.

In 2007, she started a TV station, RAAD TV in London that reached millions of Somalis globally.

International experience

In addition, Fawzia has had extensive international experience as a diplomat in the US, Russia, Germany and France. Today, she is Somalia's Diplomat-in-Chief, meeting dignitaries of the world and making every effort to bring Somalia back onto the international stage and provide a human face to what has been known as a failed state for far too long.

This is also a victory for the Prime Minister's wife, Asha Haji Elmi, for her decades long struggle to promote Somali women's rights through her movement, the Sixth Clan and her NGO Save Somali Women and Children.