On March 17th 2018, Ogaden Youth and Student Union participated in a panel discussion alongside representatives of women’s organisations in the countries of the Horn of Africa addressing their countries’ struggle towards gender equality and the rights of women, the progress achieved and the challenges faced. The discussion aimed to provide an insight into each of the countries’ unique social and economic dynamics and its impact on the position of women in a patriarchal society.
Ogaden Youth and Student Union focused on the systemic barriers that Somali women face in the Ogaden region which hinder them from gaining access to basic and fundamental rights by closely examining the context of violence within which they exist on a day-to-day basis. They spoke on the interrelationship between the protection of the fundamental human rights of women and their social and economic progression, as living in constant conflict is perhaps one of the most important issues shaping the experiences of women in the Ogaden (which have both social and economic implications). Ogaden Youth and Student Union representatives also spoke on the gendered and particularised nature of human rights abuses both generally and specifically in the Ogaden where they are geared towards stripping women of their dignity and rights, and dehumanising them in particularly violent ways.
Challenging the various cultural and patriarchal forces that have also played a role in creating and sustaining continued discrimination based upon sex, the gendered violence which continues to persist as a method of warfare at the hands of the government as well as the role of the liyu police, represents the dangerous intersection of multiple types of oppressions which are life-threatening and often deadly.
The event was concluded with a Q&A session.