Women call for peace

Sixty women peace activists in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, have appealed for the restoration of peace and stability in the city.

Their call was made during a women's forum held in Mogadishu, organised by the Centre for Research and Dialogue (CRD), an affiliate of the War-Torn Societies Project International, according to Maryam Mahmud Haji, a CRD gender officer.

Maryam told IRIN on Tuesday that women could make a difference, and that the leaders would have to listen to them. Women's "support is very crucial to any leader who has future political aspirations," she said.

The women, from a cross-section of the Banadir Region (Mogadishu and environs), were peace activists who had been trying to persuade the various Mogadishu factions to agree on a common administration for the region, Sharifo Adow, a member of the group, told IRIN. She said the forum provided women with an opportunity to share their ideas and "put together a plan of action".

"We have decided that we will do anything to bring pressure to bear on the leaders to accept a unified administration for Banadir Region and to restore peace and stability," Sharifo said.
"This city has suffered more than anywhere else in Somalia, and it is the women who bear the brunt of the problems. We are the mothers, sisters and the wives who have to care for the family after our men are killed or maimed."

Sharifo said her group had met all the faction leaders and members of the Transitional National Government to "urge them to resolve their differences for the benefit of the people".

"We are more hopeful than before, but we are not there yet," she said. "We are calling on them to set up this administration before the Mbagathi [peace] talks [being held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi] end."

Sharifo said her group would not hesitate to denounce "those leaders, who prove to be an obstacle, to the people of Mogadishu and to the international community".

Sharifo said it was the first time such a diverse group from the different clans in Mogadishu had met. Its members were women who had formerly supported different factions, but were now determined to put the past aside.

"We have decided to put our differences aside and work for the common good," she told IRIN.