The 40 women conference participants dubbed G40 will in the five days of their discussions come up with an action plan that strategizes on enhancing the status and role of women in the Horn of African region. The conference is funded by the Club of Madrid, an independent non-profit organization of more than 80 democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 56 countries, the G40 deliberated on the issues of crisis prevention, democracy, security, development and leadership.
During her opening speech The Somaliland 1st lady revealed that women rights in the country are observed by both the administration and citizens though traditional norms are a constrain which is being addressed. She said "there are two women elected MPs in parliament, one appointed member of the Guurti (House of Elders), two full ministers and one deputy in very responsible portfolios and one woman mayor"
Amina Weris told the conference that while these figures of women leaders in decision making positions might seem minor compared with other countries, it is a big achievement for Somaliland women courtesy of the current administration which is determined to make the constitutionally enshrined women rights a reality.
She stressed that Somaliland was a democratic and peaceful country that has achieved more in the areas of gender development despite 2 decades of non-recognition as a sovereign country thus the lack of bilateral assistance.
The 1st lady asked the participants to feel welcomed, mingle with the common man and visit any part of the country they wished as security and peaceful co-existence makes the country safe not only for locals but visitors as well
The 40 women leaders from the 8 Horn of Africa countries of from South & North Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Somaliland are leaders in various fields like teachers, humanitarian workers, lawyers, grassroots peace activists, researchers, political scientists, business professionals, historians, social workers, human rights defenders and journalists.
The Club of Madrid interventions in the Horn of Africa are made possible by funding from a number of EU countries namely: Belgium, Germany, Norway, Iceland and Australia.
The G40 Hargeisa conference which ends on Tuesday will act on recommendations from earlier group meetings in Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Kampala and Djibouti that were implemented and fully funded by the Club of Madrid, under the leadership of the club's Kjell Magne Bondevik Mary Robinson, Valdis Birkavs and Kim Campbell from Norway, Ireland, Latvia & Canada respectively.
Club officials revealed that though the main agenda for the three years project ending in 2012 is to promote and enhance women participation in the decision make process from grassroots-up notably achievements have been realized as pertains to the Somali Constitution draft assessment as well as observing the 2010 presidential cum parliamentary election in Sudan.
The selection of Somaliland to host the G40 action planning meeting on enhancing the status and role of women in the Horn of African region is a symbol of the country's esteem internationally as a democratic and peaceful haven in one of the most volatile regions on earth.
The irony is that while the international community recognizes these achievements thence the esteem it has continuously turned a blind eye to the two decades imperative quest for recognition as a sovereign country despite pleas in various forums. The international community's blindness to Somaliland as a sovereign nation will be tested in the 23rd London conference on Somalia.