Every year, throughout the world, millions of people unite to celebrate International Womens Day on March 8th. Each year, globally, a specific theme is chosen and this year’s was ‘Step it Up for Gender Equality’. At PDRC, all programs and the overall organizational mandate is one rooted in gender mainstreaming and equality. The center has made it a principle to empower women and reaffirm a dear principle that Somali women matter. With that in mind, as in the past, an event focusing on ‘Building Young Women Future Leaders’ to commemorate International Womens Day held at our headquarters had the great privilege of two keynote speakers; Asha Gelle and Fadumo Jibril. Asha Gelle is one of the key figures in the establishment of Puntland State in 1998; she is also the former Minister of Women Affairs in Puntland and Chairwoman of the Federal Constitutional Committee. Currently, she is based in Galkayo and runs TAG Foundation which is actively involved in developmental initiatives. Fadumo Jama Jibril is considered the leading environmental activist in Somalia; she is the founder of ADESO and has dedicated her life to educating and empowering communities. She is currently based in the rural outskirts of Sanaag region. These two women are, by far, widely acknowledged in Puntland as role models for all Somali women.

The International Womens Day event at PDRC began with opening remarks from the Executive Director, Abdirahman Abdulle Shuuke. He pointed out that the main concern of young women is the lack of employment opportunities. “Although the jobs may not be present, this shouldn’t hinder your abilities. It’s you who must create the opportunities. It’s you who must think and come up with the jobs which are missing. It’s better to search within for solutions rather than wait for support from others. You are just as or even more than capable than men.” stated the PDRC Executive Director.
Another key person and organizer of this event, the PDRC Decentralization Lead Researcher Amina Abdiqadir, elaborated on her role; experience and outlook on gender equality. “Aside from working with communities to establish and train local councils, I’m primarily focused on ensuring that women are as active in the political arena of Puntland. We, at PDRC, have worked effortlessly in encouraging women from urban to remote districts to participate in the political process. This is fundamental to any and all efforts for genuine development” stated the PDRC Decentralization Lead Researcher. Event proceedings continued with both keynote speakers taking turns on highlighting their plight to making significant strides towards changing the lives of so many people all across Puntland for the better. “I remember when I first had the intention to apply for a position; many people warned me that there were too many obstacles in the way. I refused to listen to those people and instead made my own path based on confidence and ambitions. It’s these two factors that you, as young women, must always bear in mind: Confidence and ambitions are essential to every step you make hereon” state Ashe Gelle.The Audio Visual Unit of PDRC played a documentary called ‘Women Role Models’ highlighting three extraordinary women who’ve made and continue to make enormous contributions towards Puntland progress: Ashe Gelle, Fadumo Jibril and Hawa Adan. “I look forward to a day that women shall emerge as office directors and men as deputies; this is a sign of gender equality. Although, certain indications of progress are evident-there still remains plenty of work to be done” states Fadumo Jibril in the PDRC
Documentary. Participants of the yearly event at PDRC included women Ministers, activists, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, civil society members among many others. An open question and answer session between
keynote speakers and participants also brought to surface many of the critical guidance tips and pointers crucial to these young women. The International Womens Day event concluded with both keynote speakers exchanging information with participants and pledging to work with all young females aspiring to better their lives for the general benefit of Puntland as a whole.