Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda? Somali Debates on Women's Public Roles and Political Participation

Citation:

Horst, Cindy. 2017. "Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda? Somali Debates on Women's Public Roles and Political Participation." Journal of Eastern African Studies 11 (3): 389-407.

Author: Cindy Horst

Abstract:

In conflict and post-conflict settings, the international community operates with the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda supporting gender equality. During and after war, gender roles are often deeply contested as part of larger societal transformations and uncertainties. In Somalia since the 1960s, gender identities and roles have undergone substantial changes, influenced by contemporary political systems, the women’s movement, civil war and religious transformations. The international community’s role in these societal transformations should not be over-estimated. Life history research with Somali women shows that debates on women’s roles in the public sphere are taking place irrespective of the international agenda. Somali women have, at least since the 1960s, held civil-political leadership positions, despite substantial disagreements on the public role of women in Somalia. Furthermore, the “international”and “local” are difficult to disentangle. The Somali female elite have often spent years abroad and introduced new gender perspectives from places as divergent as Egypt, Russia and the United States. Global cultural and religious trends are influencing post-war Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland. In this complex socio- cultural landscape, the international WPS agenda can support –but also risk delegitimizing – Somali processes and perspectives. The article illustrates the gap that exists between global norms and local realities by focusing on Somali discourse on women’s public roles and political participation.

Keywords: gender, Somalia, women, civil war, social change, diaspora, statebuilding, nation-building, peace, security

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Peace and Security, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, International Organizations, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Religion, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Somalia

Year: 2017

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