Women’s Rights in Islam and Somali Culture

The cultural context and experiences of women in Somaliland provide insight into both specific and
universal challenges to the fulfillment of the human rights of all Somali women. For instance, the
collapse of the central government eliminated legal protection of the human rights of women. In
the same way, the prolonged war adversely affected their socioeconomic situation. As part of their
survival strategies, women assumed heavier economic responsibilities for themselves, their children,
their parents and in many instances for their spouses. This enhanced the responsibilities of women
within families but did not necessarily translate into overall improvement in the realization of their
rights. As well, this increased participation has not lasted with the restoration of stability in Somaliland.
Men have increasingly replaced women in economic roles and earlier patterns of discrimination have
re-emerged. This is reflected in a number of crucial ways, including private and public sector
employment. Educational employment opportunities, and indeed the promotion of girl’s education
in general, are major problems. Gender disparities are significant in school enrolment statistics,
with girls comprising only 36 percent of the student population in grades 1-8, and with negligible
employment of women as teachers and education functionaries. At present only 13 percent of
primary school teachers are women.