The Resilience of Somalia’s Women: A Snapshot

The Horn of Africa has a number of humanitarian, political and economic challenges – but its people are not short of resilience, strength and collective power.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week, below is a collection of figures that illustrate what life for the average Somali woman inside Somalia (according to main international organizations).

I hope one day to collect testimonials and share actual stories of women on the ground that reflects their gains as well as their challenges.

Photo: Abdi Hassan/IRIN

I’ve been fortunate to meet many Somali women dedicated to improving the lives, well being and security of their communities in Somalia.  Their stories reveal that the estimates the world has are but a fraction of the whole story.

In the meantime, here is a roundup of statistics which capture a number of challenges women face and overcome in Somalia.

  • 6.7 – Number of children born per woman in Somalia. (WHO) The numbers are higher in rural areas, than in urban areas.
  • 27% – Percentage of Somali women who are literate. (UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women – 2008.) The illiteracy rate for Somali women is twice as high as the rate for men.
  • 54% – Percentage of Somali women who take part in the labor force. (UN Data – 2008)
  • 6.1% – Percentage of seats held by women in the national parliament of Somalia.  (UN Data – 2009)
  • About 50% – Approximate percentage of Somali women that suffer from anemia. (Source: FSNAU – 2010)
  • 1 in 14 – Lifetime risk of dying in childbirth. (Source: Unicef – 2008)
  • 9% – Percentage of births by Somali mothers that took place in a health care facility. (Source: Unicef – 2005 – 2009)
  • 32% – Percentage of pregnant Somali women who received ante-natal care. (WHO – 2006)
  • 16% – Percentage of pregnant and lactating Somali women who are either malnourished, or at risk of being malnourished. (FSNAU)

About Sahafrica

I think about the Horn of Africa all day - Somalia Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, you name it. Follow me for news, travel logs, blog posts & random thoughts & rants.
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