Somali Politics and Gendered Culture: Finding Simplicity in Complexity

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At the end of 2016, Somalia will select a new government. The current governing body will be replaced by a new administration chosen by 275 parliamentarians, which will be selected by 135 clan elderly. Among those to be vetted and included in the result should be women and youth. However, Somalia is a patriarchal society in which men are dominate, and women are subordinate and awarded to specific cultural roles within their society. The nature and extent of gender disparity differ across cultures, but it is necessary to understand the system that keeps Somali women disadvantaged and to unravel its workings in order to make it a clear focus for women’s development in a systematic way. This article addresses one of the less talked about topics within Somali politics: gender balance and the cultural complexity that creates obstacles for Somali women to participate in shaping their own society and the future of their country.

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