Good local governance cannot work if due attention is not given to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
UN-HABITAT, working under the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery, is making sustained efforts to incorporate gender issues in its work with partners.
UN-HABITAT has produced a number of training tools that aim to build the capacities of local governments in areas such as local governance, leadership and financial management, and local economic development. A strong gender dimension has been incorporated into these tools and in ongoing training activities.
The gender training is carried out as part of the joint programme activities to enhance the awareness and capacities of local councillors, municipal core staff, and selected community leaders from the six target Somaliland districts: Borama, Hargeisa, Berbera, Sheikh, Burao, and Odweine.
In April 2010, UN-HABITAT funded a senior international trainer to come to Hargeisa and train six trainers (three from Somaliland and three from Puntland) on gender issues. They developed training materials, planned training sessions, and learned the best methods to deliver training.
The trainers then organized and conducted workshops in Sheikh and Borama. They related the training materials to Somali culture and Islam, covering such topics as gender in Islam, gender mainstreaming and equality, and gender-responsive budgeting.
Discussions were constructive and the participants understood what the bottlenecks were for the involvement of women in local governance; they realized and agreed that the main obstacle was culture, and not restrictions related to Islam.
One of the traditional leaders said, “This training has changed my view, and now I strongly believe that women can participate in decision-making processes and the leadership of the state, since religion accepts it.” The participants agreed that if women were involved in the development of their country, they could contribute significantly to its progress, since they were the main human resources in Somaliland.
The participants then developed an action plan to enhance gender issues and involve women in decision-making processes in the immediate future.
In conclusion, the trainings were a success. The districts of Hargeisa, Berbera, Burao, and Odweine will have similar trainings later in 2010.