In a country marred by a violent history of rivalry between political-military factions, Asha Hagi Elmi proudly says that, “My only clan is womanhood.” As chairwoman of Global Fund grantee partner Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC), Asha’s words are more than symbolic.
In 2000, SSWC led a cross-clan group of women to lobby for women’s inclusion in an historic national peace conference. This group, dubbed the Sixth Clan, made it possible for women to participate in the 2004 signing of peace accords between warlords. Subsequently, women gained their right to participate in politics for the first time in Somalia’s history. SSWC used a Global Fund renewal grant to train 360 women “agents of change” to deepen their understandings of key national and international protocols such as CEDAW and the Beijing Platform. This initiative enabled Somali women to hold their government accountable to good governance and women’s rights.
While SSWC has taken bold actions to ensure that women are at the decision-making table, their work is far from over. Currently, heightened fighting between clans coupled with extreme drought and famine has intensified displacement across the region. In response to the devastating famine in August, SSWC used an emergency grant from Global Fund to distribute nutrition and dignitary kits to 1,000 women and girls in five IDP camps in Mogadishu.