New Action Plan Launched to Enhance Somali Women’s Role in Somalia’s Maritime Sector

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A new national action plan for enhancing and empowering Somali women in their country’s maritime sector was launched today at a high-level event bringing together senior government officials and representatives from civil society and the international community, including the United Nations.

“The ‘Blue Economy’ that we want to exploit includes fisheries from our waters and all the goods that pass through it; we also have to consider the value chain from the fisherman, to the buyer, to the marketer and to the investor. In order to succeed in this venture we need to empower women across the whole value chain,” Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Salah Ahmed Jama, said in his speech at the event to launch the Women in Maritime Sector (WiMS) National Action Plan.

“I can assure you that if we put all our efforts and work towards empowering women, especially in the ‘Blue Economy’ and around climate change, we will definitely have success,” he continued.

“The WiMS National Action Plan will help to ensure that women operating across the maritime domain are provided increased visibility and opportunities to not only participate in, but also benefit from, the sector,” the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, Anita Kiki Gbeho, said in her remarks.

“Opportunities are limitless in the maritime domain. With its vast coastline, Somalia’s ‘Blue Economy’ could be at the forefront of delivering change and generating wealth for Somalia’s women and, indeed, for the nation,” added Ms. Gbeho, who also serves as the Officer-in-Charge of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

Others attending the launch included Somalia’s Minister of Women and Human Rights, Khadija Diriye; its Minister of Ports and Marine Transport, Abdullahi Ahmed Jama; and the Head of Delegation of the European Union, Ambassador Tiina Intelmann.

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Plan’s culmination

The WiMS National Action Plan marks the culmination of a Somali-led process that began in September 2019, with coordination and support from UNSOM and the European Union Capacity Building Mission in Somalia (EUCAP Somalia).

“This Action Plan takes a lead in ensuring that women are included in this area and will contribute wider to gender equality in Somalia,” Amb. Intelmann said in her remarks at the launch.

With its key location along main international shipping routes, some 3,300 kilometres of coastline and extensive sea-based resources, Somalia’s maritime domain is widely considered as providing immense economic opportunities in the ‘Blue Economy.’

However, there is a critical shortage of maritime skills due to the lack of educational and institutional capacity. Also, there remains a significant gender inequality which deprives Somali women and girls of their basic rights and opportunities, including maritime education, economic participation and access to financial resources.

The Action Plan, developed through an inclusive approach involving the Federal Government of Somalia and the country’s Federal Member States, was designed to collectively develop women’s needs and priorities in the maritime sector, within both the private sector and government institutions.

Plan’s implementation

Those involved in developing the action plan over the past six years also include the Federal Government of Somalia’s Ministries of Port and Maritime Transport, Women and Human Rights Development, Fisheries and Blue Economy, Education, Labour, Internal Security, Justice and Planning, as well as a range of corresponding ministries from the country’s Federal Member State.

In their remarks, the Deputy Prime Minister and the UN Deputy Special Representative noted the important role of international partners.

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“Organizations should work on empowering women. We are hoping that our donors and partners will consider investing in women in this sector,” Deputy Prime Minister Jama said.

The UN’s Ms. Gbeho emphasized that it was now crucial to transform the Action Plan into projects that can be supported with technical and financial assistance.

In this respect, she also encouraged UN agencies such as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to continue their support. 

“The collective commitment we are making jointly today in launching the WiMS National Action Plan is of vital importance,” she said. “We need a gender responsive maritime domain, with new procedures and structures that bring real change. We need a sector that recognizes and promotes women’s willingness and agency to work in maritime, fisheries, mineral extraction and law enforcement sectors.”

“The UN believes,” Ms. Gbeho continued, “an ocean of opportunities exist for Somalia to explore; I can see its Women in Maritime are ready to be part of the exploration team.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).