Somali Magazine – On International Women’s Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Federal Ministry of Health of Somalia commemorated the occasion by pledging to achieve gender equity in the country. The theme for the day was “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. The organizations called on all partners to collaborate in accelerating progress toward universal health coverage (UHC) by leveraging technological, social, and economic resources.
The aim is to ensure that all Somali women and girls can lead healthy, equitable, and quality lives. The WHO Country Office has been supporting the Ministry of Health in advancing women’s rights and the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 3, “to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all” and Goal 5, “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”
Dr. Naima Abdulkadir, Reproductive Health Manager at the Ministry of Health and Human Services, acknowledged the support provided by the WHO Country Office in Somalia. She stated, “In the given context of Somalia, addressing the gender inequalities remains a big ask for the Ministry. While managing a global pandemic, the country is dealing with discrimination and seeks to ensure that every person, regardless of sex, can live a healthy life. However, to achieve this dream goal, we need sustained cooperation from WHO and other humanitarian partners to ensure that no one is left behind.”
Somalia ranks among the countries with the lowest gender equality globally, with a gender inequality index of 0.776. Maternal and infant mortality rates remain exceedingly high, and early marriage is prevalent. An overwhelming 99% of women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation, and gender-based violence is widespread, with a prevalence of 14%, yet access to prevention and protection services remains limited.
Despite the high mortality rates, no national maternal and perinatal death surveillance and reporting is in place, making evidence-based planning difficult. The WHO Country Office is supporting the Ministry of Health to address various gaps, challenges, and gender inequalities and inequities in health. They are generating more gender-segregated data used for improved planning and programming and enhancing service delivery, with a particular focus on women and children.
Dr. Al-Umra Umar, Programme Lead for Reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health at the Country Office, said that “WHO teams have been collaborating with the government and partners to address the yawning gaps in gender equity and equality across Somalia by providing quality and accessible health services to women by employing innovative technological approaches like solarization of health facilities, capacity-building of women in health-related fields and providing employment to women.”
This initiative by the WHO and the Ministry of Health of Somalia is a significant step towards achieving gender equity in the country. It highlights the importance of leveraging technological innovations to address gender disparities and improve the health and well-being of women and girls in Somalia.