Welcome to our latest chat with DCFP for Somalia, Hassan Maalim.  Please tell us what you do Hassan?

Our organisation does rural and urban youths capacity development for employment and productivity skills in agriculture and agro-processing and related business support services including provision of modern farming and fresh vegetables crops cultivation, harvesting, storage and marking services training using world class communication tools, in the process increasing their income and food security, market accessibility and livelihoods.

What are the challenges youth face in Somalia?

  •  Lack of employment, empowerment and inclusivity in the social, economic and political development in the transformation process taking place in the country are the main challenges. As a result their potential to showcase their skills is hindered. 

  •  Lack of justice, security and social protection. Youths are victims of insecurity and injustice in everyday life and they don’t have anywhere to turn to address their plights. This is especially so with indigenous, minority and ethnic groups who as a result join extremist groups, as well as forced into labour and child soldier. They are denied the opportunities for equal participation and share of resources, they lack social protection and face abuses from Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps owners and dominating clans. The central and state governments give little attention and protection to them. The current fragile government and its departments are inactive or unresponsive to the difficult living conditions of these groups of the society and to advocate and advance the constitutional rights and establish strong and responsive rules of law, policies and due diligence in promoting their social protection.

  • Human rights abuses -the youth face abuse on daily life including gender based violence, sexual harassment and exploitation, especially those who live in IDP camps, slums and temporary shelters. The women and girls are the major victims in this group. The military and armed groups and dominant clans abuse and violate their rights and there is no justice or rule of law to protect them.

  • Gender inequality and lack of women empowerment. Most skilled job opportunities are filled and dominated by men in spite the existence and market availability of qualified skilled women. Jobs are given on clan based basis – nepotism and favouritism is common practice. It denies professional and qualified women the opportunity to inclusive, gender based, managerial and decision making process at the work place. Other factors contributing to gender unbalance is grass rooted cultural norms and stereotypes associated with gender. There is a lack of advocacy to equal participation and gender inclusivity in the work place, market place and community place.

  •  Women empowerment. This is also a major area of concern critical to social, economic and sustainable development in the communities. Women are the backbone of every society success. The challenges include negative communal social cultural norms and stereotypes that undermine the value and contribution of women at work, market and community place, lack of capacity building and employability skills trainings like TVET centres, advocacy to full and productive social-economic development inclusivity at the work place, community and market place. Women performs very drudgery casual jobs in the community and are paid a pittance after working long hours, in addition to carrying out all the home making and childcare responsibilities, often without the support of the husband or partner.

  • No strong policies promoting their financial and empowerment support from the central and regional state government, donors and other well wishers or philanthropic individuals or organisations.

  • Lastly but not least, there are cases of indigenous communities being forcefully displaced from their own land, citizenship rights abuses, environmental degradation, girls forced into early marriages, high rate of school drop outs due to lack of financial support, increase in illegal migration.

What can be done to overcome these issues?

Strong policies are needed to be implemented to promote gender balancing and eradication of cultural and social norms and stereotyping. Provision of financial support and advocacy bodies and associations to increase their inclusive productivity and income resulting livelihood promotions. Indigenous communities need legal rights empowerment, gender equality, women and youth empowerment, human rights and social protection and advocacy, establishment of social media platforms and forums for networking, collaboration and coordination for ideas, challenges, opportunities, progress and information sharing.

You’re saying social media is key to development in Somalia?

Yes, youths in Somalia are the major users of social media since. They are 75% of the country population but the challenge we face is bringing them together under one national platform to jointly address their concerns, discuss opportunities, nurturing ideas and information sharing to achieve the common goal of sustainable youth development.

How’s the political atmosphere Somalia? Does it allow young people and human rights organisations to voice out their opinions and fight for human rights to be respected?

The political atmosphere is not one that favours advocacy and advancing human rights protection, hence the youths and human rights activists find it difficult to speak with a loud voice – for instance through using local and international radio broadcasting stations, television and social media. Their lives are in jeopardy and make them targets for killing. Human rights groups faces great obstacles in fixing this problem – social injustice and insecurity remain a serious issue in spite of regular lobbies through human rights bodies and practitioners.