Somali women are slowly claiming their space in the formal labor force. A women’s cooperative with seventy members is now involved in the traditionally male-dominated fishing sector in Kismayo, a port city in Lower Juba province.
The cooperative has received vital support from KIMS Microfinance, Somalia’s first and only privately owned microfinance institution. With funding from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, KIMS provides sharia-compliant financial support to people on a low income. Women make up 50 percent of its beneficiaries.
“Women in the fishing sector have proven to be competitive”
“We have supported 25,000 female-owned businesses since we began operating in 2014,” says Khalif Yusuf, KIMS regional manager in Kismayo. “We particularly prioritize women in the fishing sector, since they have proven to be competitive and created employment opportunities for other women.”
A New Constitution
This year, Somalis are set to adopt a permanent constitution through a referendum. The provisional constitution, adopted in 2012, is currently being reviewed.
Public consultation meetings have been held as part of the review process, which have provided an opportunity for women to ask for increased female representation in elected office and public service.