by Kassem Daud
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Senior female workers are increasing at public offices both in central and local level since the onset of democracy and multiple parties in Somaliland.
Mrs. Khadra H. Mohamud Gaydh, Mayor of Gabilay District, Somaliland
It was in December 2002 when two women councilors were elected at district councils of Gabilay and Berbara. Khadra Gaydh was one of these two ladies.
Again, in late 2005, two other ladies were voted into the parliament, and one of them was nominated as a minister. Currently more than three women hold high positions in the Somaliland Government, including Ministers of Education, Family, and Labour & Social Affairs and the Vice Minister of Health.
It was the first time however; a female opted for Mayor’s Office at a District Council when Khadra Gayd was selected to the Office of the Mayor at the Gabilay district.
She is the seventh Mayor to take this office since the inauguration of democracy in the country and elections of local council were initiated.
Mrs. Khadra is a competent, visionary and motivated Mayor. She has served as a Council member for four years and vice mayor for almost six years at the Gabilay District. During that period, she gained abundant experience in local government administration and provision of services.
People in her district, mainly men, had mixed reactions when the news of her nomination as the Mayor was released; however, the interesting question is what inspired her to become a Mayor?
In replying to this, she says “As a child, I loved being a social worker and had a dream to once in my life time to make difference to my community”.
Similarly, the Mayor pronounced the projects in the plan for rest of this year:
§ Fencing of all municipal compounds
§ Construction of two rooms for police station at the Kalabayd check point
§ 500 meters of tarmac road in Kalabaydh
§ Town planning for Kalabaydh
§ Clearance of roads in the Gabilay town.
Obviously, being a Mayor is not an easy task. And to become one, it takes several stages of determined work and mind: one must join a political party, then become a Council member by gaining votes from the constituents and finally run for the Office of the Mayor.
Above all, it is a challenging task for women to reach this level in a country and a continent where stigma and violence against women are high. We can only imagine how tough it was for Khadra to get above 21 male councilors and progress to the Office of the Maoyr.
The Mayor is the most senior post in a district and makes decisions which may have an impact to the lives of thousand of citizens. Therefore, one may simply foresee challenges and obstacles that lie ahead.
Mrs. Khadra asserted that there were numerous challenges in her initial days at the Office of Mayor, but later the situation gradually changed as activities progressed.
In general, public perception in Somaliland towards women reflects them as less capable, but the truth comes out when this is tested. Khadra’s successful attempts to become a Mayor is part of ending the long-standing negative cultural stereotype and pave the way for other ambitious women who intended to reach higher posts at the public, such as Governor.
“Let’s dare to join political parties, and believe that women can make better services to their community” she said when asked what message to convey to her fellow ladies in Somaliland.
E-mail: [email protected]