Who is Somalia’s only woman presidential aspirant?

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MOGADISHU, Somalia – Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam will be only the second woman in Somalia’s history to contest the presidency.

She announced her candidacy for president last month, with her ambition to contest the country’s top seat could face major challenges.

She also needs her candidacy being approved by Somalia’s federal electoral commission.

She runs Somali National Democratic Party (NDP), one of the earliest modern political parties in Somalia and established by herself in just ten years ago.

Who is Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam?

Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam is currently serving as a parliamentarian member of the 10th Federal parliament of Somalia.

From 4 November 2012 to 17 January 2014, she served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia.

She is also the first woman to have been selected for the highest echelons of Somalia.

Ms Adam, though prominent in the early years of Mr Mohamud’s rule, was born in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

In Somalia’s tense clan politics, people from Somaliland hardly crack it in the presidency in Somalia, given Somaliland’s continual declaration of (unrecognised) independence from Somalia.

Ms Adam stated that it’s time for a woman’s touch.

In an interview with VOA, she said she will open a new chapter for Somalia by prioritizing security, economic empowerment and education in which said, her male counterparts, had failed to do so.

“We have been waiting for men for so long to fix Somalia’s problems, but till today we see there are no solutions so I have decided to stand for president and I have no doubt I will do a much better job than men,” she said.

Despite her positive outlook and her ambition to contest the country’s top, Somalia remains to be a difficult place for female politicians in the upper echelons of government.

“I get threats, day in, day out,” Fawzia told Al Jazeera. “Yes, it happens, but I am not afraid about what might happen tomorrow. I am busy with today.”

She says most of those threats came from al Shabab, an al Qaeda linked group battling to topple the weak-western-backed government based in Mogadishu.

The militant group always targets politicians and public figures deemed as a challenge to its twisted beliefs.

Conservative

She faces two challenges. One is that she is female in a male-dominated polity where only elites with money have been voted in.

Under influential clan elders, the Somali political scene has largely remained conservative, as seen when leaders haggled over the 30 per cent allocation of seats to women.

There has been no clarity on how seats will be allocated to women to achieve the threshold, but at least the outgoing parliament had seen about 24 per cent seats go to women.

Still, some clan elders have openly rejected the idea of quotas for women or even giving them a chance at all.

Ms Adam, though prominent in the early years of Mr Mohamud’s rule, was born in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

In Somalia’s tense clan politics, people from Somaliland hardly crack it in the presidency in Somalia, given Somaliland’s continual declaration of (unrecognised) independence from Somalia.

Yet, Ms Adam is not just testing the waters. She may well be testing the rigidity of an age-old culture.

She believes that Islam did not stop women from going to politics or becoming head of state or in higher positions.

“If you go to Bangladesh, for the last 50 years almost there are women leaders replacing each other and it is the most conservative country in the Muslim world. The most populous country is Indonesia, there was a lady who was in charge, in Pakistan, we have so many other Muslim women [in charge] including Tanzania and Singapore,” she added.

Many residents in Mogadishu, like Osman Mohamud, believe that if given the opportunity, Fawzia, a former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, can bring change.

Mohamud says he was happy to welcome a female to run for the office of the president in Somalia.

He added that Mrs. Fawzia was tested and has knowledge and vision for leadership.

“Likewise, women have been entrusted with various positions and if females are elected as president they will lead to positive change,” he added.

Somalia’s indirect elections, scheduled for October, will see members of parliament selected by clan delegates. Members of parliament then decide who will be the next president.

Written by Ahmed Gaashaan, a planning policy adviser at MOI — Follow Ahmed Gashaan on Facebok  

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