The Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) and its affiliated twelve (12) trade unions view with serious concern the decision of two legislative houses of the Federal Parliament of Somalia in which they elected 10 members of constitutional review committee who are all male parliamentarians.
Trade unions are unreservedly dismayed that both houses elected an all-male committee for the important work of constitutional-review, instead of empowering women parliamentarians to fully participate at every stage and at every level of a constitutional-review process with meaningful decision making authority.
Somalia’s constitutional review process represents an excellent and enormous opportunity to empower women to claim their political, social, economic and cultural rights. Moreover, if the constitution of Somalia is made through an inclusive process where women have equal say and representation with men, it is more likely to lead to a durable peace and prosperity in this country.
FESTU supports the principle that says the Constitution must serve the Somali people and not the other way round. This means making the critical role played by women more visible, often at great risk, to promote peace and reconciliation through constitutional process, because there are legitimate grounds for a constitutional review in order to better the lives of the poor and to accommodate different political interests.
The current provisional constitution has a bill of rights with strong equality and non-discrimination provisions aimed at protecting women from all forms of social, economic and political exclusion. Reality, however, continues to fall short of expectations. Women in Somalia have continued to endure marginalization and exclusion.
Somali women want to see affirmative actions on political representation and participation to be constitutionalized and other women-specific provisions in the constitution to give greater meaning to their fundamental political rights.
Trade unions are particularly asking the Federal Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, as the lead national executive institution for constitutional review process, to expound its position on the composition of this gender-insensitive parliamentary committee on constitutional review.
FESTU has today written to both houses of the federal parliament to immediately revisit their decision and elect a gender sensitive constitutional review committee in order to rightly respond to the needs and interests of both men and women in their structures, operations and work.
- Ahmed Osman Said – FESTU President
- Omar Faruk Osman – FESTU General Secretary