Barriers and Opportunities for Greater Women’s Participation in Somaliland Democratisation - EU Partnership Coordination Facility Project Grant support-call for proposal

Reference: SOCO/CFP/21156-001/007
Beneficiary countries: Somalia
Registration level: Basic
Published on: 19-May-2021
Deadline on: 31-May-2021 00:00 (GMT 2.00) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris


Women’s Participation in Somaliland’s Democratisation Process

Throughout Somaliland’s history, there have been numerous efforts to increase women’s political participation through international NGO and local civil society initiatives as well as through diplomatic efforts.  When the legal quota was rejected in 2020, political parties did release a communique committing to one third of their HoR nominees being women, and advocacy efforts focused on building accountability for that agreement, in particular through its inclusion in the Code of Conduct between NEC and the three political parties.   Advocacy efforts at all levels also resulted in the Government of Somaliland announcing that it would cover candidate fees for women candidates, eliminating what is widely seen as one of the most important barriers to women’s political participation.  Despite these efforts, women’s participation  as candidates is very low at the local council level with only 15 women candidates out of 522 (2.9%) standing in the local council elections (in 2012, 172 (7.6%) candidates were women, but the electoral system was a different one then with larger number of political associations).  At the parliamentary level, there were modest increases, with 13 women candidates out of 246 (5.3%) standing in the House of Representatives election planned for May 2021, compared with the 2005 election in which 7 (2.8%) candidates were women. 

Despite the low rates of women’s participation as electoral candidates, women have consistently shown high rates of participation as voters.  In Somaliland elections, women tend to be more than 50% of the electorate, and they also represent 47% of registered voters.  Despite their high rates of participation as voters, however, evidence shows that women have also not supported women candidates as their success rate in elections has been incredibly low.  In the 2005 parliamentary elections, only 2 women were elected from the 7 women candidates, and in the 2012 local council elections, only 10 women were elected from the 172 women candidates that contested the election.

Given the mixed results of ongoing efforts to improve inclusion and participation in Somaliland’s democratisation process, there is a need to have a better understanding of the barriers and opportunities to women’s participation, with a particular focus on local elections and rural areas. UNOPS is commissioning participatory action research (PAR) to inform future programming and to establish clear recommendations from a wide range of stakeholders.

Research Objective

The general objective of the research will be to develop and implement a participatory action research process that provides a detailed understanding of women’s roles in the Somaliland democratisation process, including opportunities and challenges to greater participation in all facets of the process. 

 The research will cover all regions of Somaliland.

The final research findings will provide information on institutional, legal, and socio-political factors that impact women’s political participation.  The findings will inform both Somaliland and international stakeholders and will guide future programming, advocacy, and awareness-raising efforts aimed to increase women’s participation.  

The consultancy will work closely with multiple internal and external stakeholders including Somaliland civil society actors (CSOs), Somaliland citizens, the Somaliland National Electoral Commission (NEC), political parties, government, religious and community leaders, International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs), and the international community and donor partners, all of whom will also be the target audience for the research findings.

Scope of Work 

The Consultancy would be expected to have a good understanding of Somaliland’s democratisation process and of key stakeholders in that process, including the Somaliland National Electoral Commission (NEC), political parties, the Government of Somaliland, the Ministry of Interior, civil society organisations, religious leaders, and elders, the roles they play, and the relationships between these stakeholders.  The Consultancy would also need a baseline understanding of women’s participation in the democratisation to date.

Building on this knowledge, the consultancy will be expected to deliver:

  • An assessment of the opportunities for and barriers to women’s political participation, both in terms of their acceptance as candidates and their success rates in elections.  The assessment should be across all regions and districts of Somaliland to ensure the identification in any geographical differences in rates of women’s participation, as well as different opportunities and challenges.

  • The assessment should take a particular look, both in desk and field research, at the opportunities for and barriers to women’s political participation at the local (district) level, in order to fill a particular gap in understanding due to an ongoing focus on the parliamentary level. 

  • A participatory actor mapping that explores the linkages between actors at all levels.  The actor mapping should also consider the gender relations of stakeholders, as well as other sub-groups such as location.  If possible, the actor mapping should explore perceptions of different actors towards women’s political participation.

  • An examination of key historical and socio-political factors that have had an influence on women’s political participation, including the role of clan elders and traditional and religious groups in women participation.

  • Recommendations to all stakeholders including political parties, the NEC, civil society organisations, government actors, and the international community that guide interventions to increase women’s political participation in Somaliland.  Recommendations will be validated and prioritized by Somaliland stakeholders to ensure there is local ownership and recommendations will be taken forward.

In order to ensure Somaliland ownership of the process and increase buy-in for the results the research will be done through participatory methods.  Participatory research ensures that even the research questions themselves will be developed by and resonate with the target audience, increasing the likelihood that the recommendations and priorities will be actioned.  A more detailed methodology will be developed by the research team but should specifically address the following:

  • Desk research covering relevant legislation and internal institutional regulations and procedures of relevant institutions such as political parties and the Somaliland National Electoral Commission (NEC). 

  • Baseline understanding of the current state of women’s participation in the democratisation process in all roles, and the trends in women’s participation since the democratisation process began in 2001.

  • Review of past programmes in support of women’s political participation and assessment of what worked well and key challenges

  • A post-election review that includes a survey of successful women and unsuccessful women candidates and their perceptions of what impacted their results

  • Analysis of potential geographical differences that either support or discourage women’s participation in the democratisation process and targeted recommendations in response to findings

The Consultancy will also require collaboration with a reference group with another consultancy carrying out similar research in the region.  The Reference Group will, as much as possible, work to harmonise methodologies, research tools, and presentation of results.  The Reference Group will allow an additional layer of analysis and results while at the same time promoting cross-border collaboration and promoting participatory research through a peacebuilding lens.