Peace is a Collaborative Effort: Women in Badhan Calm Down Political Tension.

Published September 29, 2016 by Muna Ali

Hawa Abdullahi Warsame in her shop in Badhan, Somalia. Photo by Abdullatif Abby

Though not very vocal in the political and formal decision-making scene, women in Somalia have traditionally played an active and critical role in initiating dialog and reconciliation between conflicting parties.

In the wake of the 2016 Somaliland voter registration campaign, political tension sparked up between the Puntland and Somaliland administrations, in the disputed northern Sanaag region. Clashes flared in BodaAdde near Dhahar, leaving at least five people dead and threatening to destabilize the region.

Hawa Abdullahi Warsame recounts how she and a group of other women in Badhan, came together to calm the tension and restore peace in the region.

The women called on both the Puntland and Somaliland administrations to withdraw from the fighting. They also held peace campaigns where they fundraised for the maintenance of peace and looked after casualties of the clashes.

“First, we held meetings where we discussed the need to voice our concerns to the governments of Puntland and Somaliland. We involved the local media in sharing our message that the registration should be carried out peacefully because we all had a lot to lose if we lost the peace.”

The women organized a peace walk to BodaAdde to protest the political clashes and put their lives at risk, saying that if the conflicting parties insist on fighting, they should first shoot at the unarmed women marching for peace.

“They had to understand that if they were going to shoot at each other and our children, their bullets will have to go through us first!”

Had it not been for their strong voice and desire for peace, the clashes would have escalated into a bigger conflict and claimed more lives. With support and commitment from their community and traditional leaders, the women in Badhan played a significant role in calming the situation.

“We did not do it alone. We involved our community leaders and together, we were able to achieve results. As pastoralists, we cross over into each other’s land for pasture and water. We share resources. We could not let the tension break out into civil war because the effects would have been felt even by future generations.”

Hawa Abdullahi Warsame is an alumni of Adeso's Promoting Women's Political Participation for Development of Peace and Security (PROWOPP) project that has empowered many women to play an active role in their community’s decision-making and maintenance of peace and security.

Watch more about the project here.