Yesterday, Irish Ambassador Fionnuala Quinlan hosted the International Crisis Group on Somalia who presented their paper on the role of Women in the Al-Shabaab Militant Group followed by what was described as “a very enlightening and informative discussion”.
The International Crisis Group is an independent organisation “working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world.”
Their paper is based interviews with women previously linked to Al-Shabaab whose statements were verified with former militants and close observers of the movement.
Their findings suggest that women help sustain the insurgency. While Al-Shabaab imposes restrictions upon women, it can provide some security and its courts often uphold Islamic family law to their benefit.
Some women recruit, fundraise, spy or smuggle arms for the group. While Al-Shabaab remains potent and controls some areas, women are likely to continue in such roles.
The paper argues that by developing a strategy against gender-based violence, the Somali government could demonstrate that it is doing what it can to alleviate women’s suffering.
It also says that women could be better integrated into the security forces and women’s roles in Al-Shabaab studied to improve efforts against the militants.