This comic edition of the Horn of Africa Bulletin takes us on a tour of the peacebuilding journey of Halima Godane from Somalia, presented as narrated by her and showcasing the challenges faced and contributions made by women in Somalia. She is known as the 'Hooyada nabadda Jubaland’, meaning the ‘Mother of Peace in Jubaland in Somalia.
“I am Halima Godane. I founded the Somali Women Solidarity Organization (SWSO) in 2006 in Jubbaland, Somalia.”
“I started SWSO after I witnessed the dire situation caused by years of conflicts that engulfed the country, but especially suffered by women in the Jubba region.”
“I used to see mediations in Somalia. Women were only observers. They had little influence to raise their concerns. Women weren’t welcome.”
“I realised the need to strengthen women’s participation in peacebuilding in Jubbaland to be able to actively participate in grassroots mediation.”
“Two things needed to happen. Elders needed to realise that women understood the complexity of the conflicts in the community.”
Women needed to learn the intricacies of the historical and traditional mediation mechanisms that are passed down between elders.
“I pushed back such beliefs and worked to build the trust of elders.”
“We held trainings to increase women’s skills on traditional Somali mediation and modern mediation, leadership, negotiation skills and to have a voice within their communities.”
“We also established women platforms in Jubbaland to enhance women’s conflict resolution mechanisms.”
“Women’s community platforms have supported the communities and built trust between women, clan elders, and the authorities.”
“I have seen how including youth and women in mediation changes how politicians and clan elders act. They want the community to see them as peaceful. This creates a smoother mediation process.”
“I’m proud to see how elders and community leaders’ attitudes have changed towards women.”
“When we started the women’s mediation in my community, it was rare for women who were peace activists. Now, peace activists are everyone. People realise the importance of women peacebuilders in Somalia.”