Somalia – The Untold Story: The War Through the Eyes of Somali Women

Authored by: Judy el Bushra and Judith Gardner (Editors)

Categories: Human Rights, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Migration, National Security Forces and Armed Groups
Country: Somalia
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2004
Citation: El Bushra, Judy and Judith Gardner, eds. Somalia - The Untold Story: The War Through the Eyes of Somali Women. London: Pluto Press, 2004.

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Executive Summary

Some of the contributors are academics and researchers, some are health professionals, social and community workers, teachers, artists. As educated, professional women they represent a tiny minority among women in Somalia where female literacy is around 12 percent. But what they speak of is relevant to the majority of Somali women. The war has rocked, and in places cracked, the foundations of society – the family – and in Somalia women, whatever their relative wealth or poverty, gain their social value from their role as wives, mothers and sisters. All of the contributors have been forcibly displaced by the war; many have become refugees or asylum seekers; some still are unable to return home and remain refugees. Others have built new lives for themselves in parts of the country where they may have had no previous experience but where, because of their clan identity, they are relatively safe. Almost all have endured agonies of separation and loss. For most, their nuclear family – mother, father and children – has been riven by the conflict between clans, forcing them to make heart-breaking decisions in order to save themselves and their children. For many this has meant separation from partners and children as each sought refuge in their own clan territories or outside the country. The contributors have in common their experience as war-affected women. But most also share a resolve to overcome their adversity and help others by whatever means they can. ‘I lost everything and witnessed killings and saw dead people lying in the street’, says one. ‘I became traumatised and suffered from stress and deep depression yet somehow I developed an inner strength and have not given up hope.’