Somalia’s Youth – A Beacon of Hope #WD2023

Kigali, Rwanda — Somalia’s youth are facing a crisis.

The country has been facing challenges in addressing youth unemployment, this means that millions of young people are unable to find work and are therefore unable to support themselves or their families. The country is one of the poorest in Sub-Saharan Africa, with most of the population living below the international poverty line of US$1.90.

However, in the midst of the ongoing crisis, the resilience and determination of its youth shine through as a beacon of hope for the nation’s future. Faced with immense challenges, including political instability, economic hardship, and the threat of violence, Somali youth have stepped up to play a vital role in rebuilding their war-torn country.

One such young activist is Amal Abdi, a 22-year-old from Somaliland. Abdi works with Taakulo Community, a local organization that partners with Plan International Somaliland, an international organization that works to improve the lives of children. Abdi is passionate about promoting the active participation of youth in peacebuilding and conflict resolution processes in Somalia. She believes that young people have a unique perspective to offer and that their voices need to be heard in order to build a more peaceful and prosperous future for the country.

“We have many conflicts back home, whether they are clan conflicts or other types of conflicts,” said Abdi. “I believe that the reason why we have not been able to end these conflicts for so long is because we are not including the youth in the peacebuilding process.”

“There are many young people who are passionate about peacebuilding. They are studying peacebuilding in universities and other educational institutions. They are also working in their communities to promote peace. However, their voices are not being heard by those who are in positions of power. I believe that if we include the youth in the peacebuilding process, we can make real progress towards ending these long-lasting conflicts.”

In addition to her work on peacebuilding, Abdi is also a vocal advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. She believes that young women have the potential to be powerful agents of change and that they must be given the opportunity to lead and participate in decision-making processes.

“I know that it is not easy to speak out for your rights,” said Abdi. “There will be challenges, but you must continue to do so. Do not listen to those who tell you that you cannot get your rights. You must stand by the side of women and girls who are fighting for their rights. Human rights are the foundation of everything. When people do not have their rights, they cannot live a full and meaningful life.”

Somalia has been in a state of civil war for decades.

The conflict has created a dangerous and unstable environment, especially for the youth, particularly girls and women. Young people are often caught up in violenceand they are also more likely to be victims of crime.

Climate change poses one of the biggest challenges to the country’s stability.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) warned that conflict and climate change are pushing millions of people in Somalia to the brink of hunger. The WFP projects that approximately 6.6 million Somalis will face crisis levels or worse of food insecurity this year, and 1.9 million children under the age of five will suffer from acute malnutrition. The WFP’s warning comes as Somalia is experiencing its worst drought in decades. The drought has caused widespread crop failures and livestock deaths, leaving millions of people without food.

“That’s really true back home,” Abdi remarked. “We have a lot of internally displaced people, and this is often due to climate change. That’s precisely why I believe that young people should be included in leadership positions so that we can lead positive change on climate issues. We can also help to address the impacts of climate change, such as displacement.”

Somalia has been devastated by extreme drought in the Horn of Africa, leading to catastrophic hunger and displacement of people from their homes. The country has experienced consecutive seasons of poor rainfall and low river water levels, resulting in crop failures, reduced employment opportunities, and shortages of water and pasture. The situation is further exacerbated by the ongoing conflict.

Gender-based violence, or GBV, is also a serious problem in Somalia. It can affect people of all ages, including youth. GBV includes a variety of human rights violations, such as rape, domestic violence, sexual assault, and harassment. According to a report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), GBV continues to be a major concern in Somalia, with cases reported in several states, including Daadab, Galmudug, South West State, Jubaland, Hirashebelle Puntland. UNFPA officials have reported that GBV attacks have become more frequent and severe in Somalia in recent months.

To address this issue, young people like Abdi are taking action to fight GBV.

“As a youth, campaigning against GBV is one of the things that I mostly do. I believe that we cannot end GBV unless we include the voices of young people in these campaigns. Young people are the power that can make a difference in my country, Somalia, and around the world. We are the voice that can impact GBV globally,” she said.

Abdi also spoke about the current threat faced by women and girls who speak out for human rights. “This is a sad reality, but it is important to remember that everyone has the right to speak out for their rights. Women and girls who speak out for their rights are doing nothing wrong. They should continue to stand up for their rights and fight for what they deserve.”

“Balancing activism with my other life is not easy,” she said.

“But I keep in mind that there will always be challenges, so I never give up. I am inspired by the youth back home who are dealing with the different struggles and issues we have. Whenever I see someone in need or a youth who is facing an issue, it motivates me to do better and move forward. It is not something that can happen overnight, but I am committed to balancing my life and my activism.

Abdi says that she had a great time at the Women Deliver conference. “The topics that were discussed were very relevant to the challenges that we are facing in my country.”

“So what I want to take from here are the solutions that have been proposed in the different sessions. I also appreciate the solidarity that I felt among the delegates. I am going to take all of this back to my country and use it to make a difference,” she said. “I am especially interested in finding solutions that include young people, especially women and girls. Solutions would be the most important thing that I take away from this conference.”