ActionAid Somaliland Country Director
On 13th July, ActionAid will be joining the Bring The Noise protest in London to highlight the importance of women’s rights. Here, our Somaliland Country Director explains why she’ll be amongst those leading the march.
Women refuse to be silenced – so let’s make a noise
This Friday’s Women’s March is termed ‘Bring The Noise’ – women will speak loudly to say that they will no longer accept mistreatment, scornfully abusive comments, discrimination and physical violence.
Women have suffered enough.
Women around the globe continue to be subjected to systematic discrimination, exclusion and violence in all spheres of social, economic and political life. Patriarchal and cultural practice persist, depriving women and girls of their basic rights and opportunities.
It isn’t just about Donald Trump
Violence against women is such a shameful act of cowardice and we should be brave enough to stop it now and for good. The effects of violence against women are often devastating and long term, affecting the physical health and mental well-being of women and girls.
Every day women struggle to access justice.
It does not end there. The ripple effects often test women’s financial ability to access justice.
In my own country, Somaliland, I witness how patriarchal views dominate society, and gender disparities result in women being subjected to physical, psychological and sexual violence. Every day, women struggle to access justice.
Although there is a constitutional law in the country, the customary law is the dominant legal system and the majority of cases are ruled by the elders where women are often pressured to marry the perpetrators who have abused them.
It is an unimaginable horror to have to sleep with the enemy and have children with him.
This is the kind of pain women go through as a result of violence – and simply because they are a woman.
Owning your own body is the most basic human right
There is nothing as basic a right as owning your own body. Female genital mutilation is the most extreme manifestation of violence against women.
98% of girls in Somaliland are cut and at least 200 million worldwide women and girls alive today have undergone this practice, like Hamdah, pictured below, now an ActionAid campaigner.
FGM violates girls’ basic human rights and bodily integrity. It also perpetuates inequality, male control and can have serious and life-long implications on a woman’s health, mental well-being and quality of life.
On Friday, I will be joining ActionAid to march under a banner proclaiming that ‘My Body Is Mine’ – since women should be the ones to decide what happens to their own bodies.
Change is possible
ActionAid has been working on integrated programming in Somaliland. Working with national, regional and grassroots communities, we tackle the root causes of gender inequality.
Change is possible if we all have the courage to challenge it, and our women’s rights work has proved successful in decreasing violence among communities and raising awareness of gender equality.
We promote women’s rights through interlinked programming, which tackles multi-dimensional issues including ending violence, access to justice, economic empowerment, literacy and political representation.
So on Friday, we say enough is enough – women have suffered enough.
We will tell Trump and other leaders if you condone, commit or remain silent, that silence is a crime – and one that you will be held accountable for.