Somalia’s Taboo Breaker First Woman Foreign Minister

By Bashir Goth - No matter what one thinks, or in what color one tries to see the appointment of Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam as the first woman Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Somalia and indeed in the Horn of Africa and the Arab World.
Article Keydmedia Online
Somalia’s Taboo Breaker First Woman Foreign Minister

It is the historical significance of a woman reaching this far in tribal-based Muslim society, where women are seen only as an appendage if not indeed a property to their menfolk, that should not escape any conscientious person’s attention.

Given to the plight, suffering and humiliation that Somali women went through over the last 20 years despite being the pillars that sustain the existence of the Somali people both inside the country and the Diaspora, what better image is there to see than an educated and refined woman being the face of Somalia to the outside world, what a better answer to Al- Shabab who couldn’t see women anything more than a bra and an obscene body to be shrouded and hidden away in dark houses.

What better answer to the Arab world where women despite spearheading the Arab Spring are being pushed to live in the 7th century by religious fanatic who themselves aren’t shy to indulge in the 21st century luxuries including smart phones and who spread their reactionary ideologies through modern social media. What better PR to the Islah-led government of President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud; what a better bridge to use to bring Somaliland to the fold than a woman who does not only hail from Somaliland but also contributed more than anyone else to making a better future for the youth there and whose own children hail from Mogadishu, a symbol of unity through her own life like numerous other Somali women.

I congratulate Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam for winning such a historic achievement for Somali women. I say winning, because Fawzia has indeed waged a long and persistent struggle to prove that Somali women can take a leadership position by their own merit and not through charity quotas.

I don’t know Fawzia, never met her and never even spoken to hear, but I was following her mammoth efforts and initiatives for community development and her political ambition over a number of years. Fawzia first attracted my attention when she initiated the founding of the University of Hargeisa in the late 1990s. I remember how she strove relentlessly to make the university a reality which she did. She again came to my radar in 2008 with the launching of RAADTV, another great project through which she tried to give a different perspective to the Somali issue other than the hackneyed failed state, war-ridden, bowl-holding, refugee camp squatters stereotype image pushed by the international media.

In her vigorous and persistent endeavor not to leave only men to the leadership landscape, Fawzia again made a comeback in late 2011 when she created the Nabad, Dimoqraadiyad iyo Barwaaqo (NDB) (Peace, Democracy and Prosperity Party) in Somaliland with the long term objective of competing for Somaliland’s presidency. It was the first time in the history of the Somali people that a woman had shown the audacity to create and lead a political party in a society that frowns on women in terms of leadership.

Although Fawzia’s NDB party did well in the primaries and the communities had come out in full support to the rallies she held in the various regions of the country and she fulfilled all the required conditions, the Silanyo government of Somaliland has declared Fawzia’s party unqualified to be registered as an official party. Knowing that she was targeted for being a woman, Fawzia refused to go down without a fight. She organized a peaceful protest in Hargeisa where hundreds of people came out to back her cause. However, the Silanyo government did not hesitate to arrest her and keep her in detention until her supporters were disbanded.  Earlier, the government also aborted Fawzia’s attempt to become the chairperson of the Board of Hargeisa University, an institution that she was instrumental in establishing it.

It is against this taboo breaking tradition that Fawzia again surprised the Somali people when she was recently appointed as Somalia’s first woman foreign minister. Here I recall Neil Armstrong

Article 21 May 2021 10:14

I read your article on Foreign Policy with keen eyes and interest. While whining from public officials does not deserve response from any sensible citizen of the Republic of Somalia, I felt compelled to counter false narrative with more objective analysis.