International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone has visited Somaliland to re-affirm the strength of the UK’ s partnership with the region and to reinforce the importance of making sure girls and women are at the heart of the development agenda.
Britain and Somaliland have a common interest in tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG), especially female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM).
Meeting with Vice President Abdirahman Saylici, Ms Featherstone emphasised the importance of tackling VAWG and urged him to keep pushing for progress on this issue.
Ms Featherstone also met female activists and NGO workers to find out what needs to be done to help protect women and girls in Somaliland. They highlighted the need to put in place a legal framework for total abandonment of FGM, in all its forms, and the importance of raising awareness and talking about this often sensitive and hidden problem. She also met members of a girls’ club, who had already started breaking the silence around the issue of FGM, by talking about it with the men in their families and communities.
She also visited Mohamed Mooge Health Clinic for internally displaced persons in Hargeisa, where she met women who are benefitting from education about the importance of spacing the births of their children and immunisation.
Lynne Featherstone said:
Violence against women and girls is a problem right across the world, including in the UK, and we must all work together to end it. Somaliland has made some progress, but there is still a long way to go.
After speaking with Somaliland women, it is clear much more needs to be done to prevent violence. And women also need better access to justice and more support from law enforcement agencies, including in cases of domestic violence and sexual violence unrelated to conflict.