Gender and Land Rights Database


Civil society and indigenous people’s organizations advocating for equality of land rights

- The Coalition for Grassroots Women Organizations (COGWO) is an umbrella organization composed of 30 local women’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs), drawn from different clans. It was established in 1996 with the intention of protecting the human rights of women after the breakdown of the government and the war.
As part of its Women’s Rights Education and Promotion project, COGWO launched a national policy formulation campaign. A workshop on policy formulation was held in Mogadishu at Shamo Hotel in early 1999, with participants from across the southern zone. The workshop drafted the Somali Women’s Charter, which embodies Somali women’s aspirations and rights. The draft charter has been presented at six workshops for debate and adoption.


- Daryeel Women Organization (DAWO) was established in 1998 in Bosaso in the Barri region of Puntland state, as a non-governmental and non-profit organization. The organization aims to: i. advocate for women’s rights for health services, education, environmental protection, employment and decision making; ii. strengthen the capacity of women’s groups to participate in the advancement of women’s status; iii. establish educational centres for women; iv. create awareness about modern teaching methods among the teachers and managers of existing educational institutions; v. build health care centres with improved facilities especially for women and children; vi. participate in the promotion of peace and development of the nation; vii. raise awareness about the spread of HIV/AIDS; and viii. fight  illiteracy.


- We Are Women Activists (WAWA) was established in 2000 in Bosaso in the northeast part of the country by a group of women activists. The organization is a network of groups which advocate for women’s participation as decision makers at all levels of civil society and government. WAWA has focused on training and sharing resources among women’s groups, including capacity building in institutional and organizational development for all member organizations. Following training, WAWA has distributed small seed funds to all of the member organizations to start their own projects.
As one of its first projects, WAWA sponsored a Young Women’s Leadership Institute to help prepare young women to play a leadership role in their member organizations and in WAWA itself.


- The Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development (GECPD) was founded in 1999 in the town of Galkayo to provide educational opportunities for girls, women, youth and the community for social reconstruction and peaceful rebuilding. GECPD has over 400 girls in primary education classes. Over 3 000 women are attending literacy and awareness learning circles where issues such as family relations, health, education for girls and women, women’s work load and natural resources management are discussed. GECPD has a community library and skills centre where women learn nutritional skills and income generation through tie-dying and tailoring.
GECPD is also active in raising awareness and advocacy against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).


-  Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC) is a non-governmental organization founded in 1992 in Mogadishu by a group of women intellectuals. The organization works at the national level to help women overcome marginalization, violence and poverty. The organization has programmes on raising awareness on the risks of FGM and HIV/AIDS. It also organizes training programmes for women on capacity building and skills development.
In 2001, SSWC held a convention that brought together more than 120 NGOs championing women’s rights and peace negotiations within the country (20).


- SAACID, say-eed, meaning to help in Somali ,is an indigenous, non-profit organization founded and directed by Somali women that focuses on practical measures to enhance the life options for women, children and the poor. Advocacy for women and girls is the focus of all SAACID’s programme initiatives, including anti-FGM forums, numeracy and literacy training, vocational training, programming in conflict resolution and training in governance. The organization has been running a microcredit programme since 1996.

Local decision-making organizations and women’s representation in them

- Uruurka haweenka is a popular community-based women’s group normally formed at the district level by female representatives from different communities.
Participation rates are still low: an estimated 6.4–16.8 percent of women from urban households and 3.6–13 percent of women from rural and nomadic households confirmed regular or occasional participation in women’s groups in 2002.

Women from 71.2 percent of households in urban areas and 78 percent of households in non-urban areas stated that they have never participated in any women’s group. Similarly, women’s participation rates in local councils are quite low (9).

Legal Information and capacity development on land rights

- The judiciary project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) seeks to strengthen the functional capacities of the judiciary system and to improve access to justice for all Somalis, particularly vulnerable women, men and children in those areas that lack state institutions. The project strengthens institutions through training and infrastructure rehabilitation, raises awareness and has provided access to legal clinics, legal aid and translation at the community level.
The project has established mobile courts, built the capacity of the legal profession, drafted a code of conduct for the judiciary, prosecutors, and the wider legal profession and helped establish the first Women Lawyers Association in the country (21).


- The Association of Somali Women Lawyers (ASWL) provides free legal aid to individuals tried in regional or district courts. ASWL, established in 2008 with the support of UNDP, is based in Mogadishu as a non-profit non-governmental organization. ASWL was founded by a group of women lawyers with the aim to protect and promote the fundamental rights of women, children and marginalized groups.
ASWL advocates for legal and policy changes through campaigning for awareness. In addition, ASWL provides trauma counselling and legal aid to vulnerable groups.
ASWL aims to: i. collaborate with women lawyers; ii. empower women’s groups through advocacy, capacity building and training programmes; iii. provide legal assistance, such as counselling and legal aid, and record  cases on human rights victims; and iv. increase the number of women involved in legal and justice administration (21).


- The Coalition for Grassroots Women Organizations (COGWO) Legal Aid for Vulnerable People project, funded by UNDP, provides legal aid free of charge for economically deprived, vulnerable groups and individuals on remand status in prison and in pre-trial detention at police stations. In addition to civil society groups, workshops target internally displaced persons (IDPs), traditional elders, women’s groups, minorities and peace and human rights district committees. The project also set up meetings with the Somali Law Society and criminal justice system administrators: police and prison administrators, judges and lawyers. The aim was to better link the legal aid project with all the justice stakeholders and to gain access to prisons, police stations and courts.

Under the Women’s Rights Promotion and Education programme, COGWO has produced booklets on family law based exclusively on sharia law. Other booklets on the law, the state, and the International Bill of Human Rights have aimed to empower COGWO members and other women activists as change agents. COGWO’s objective in this programme is to have its members focus on women’s rights while taking into account Somali culture and sharia law.

The organization has also conducted 80 religious forums in 16 districts of the Banadir region over the last five years. These religious forums were each composed of 35 women and 15 men, for a total of 4 000 participants. The groups acquired a deep knowledge of gender equality and human rights from the Islamic perspective. Also, a comparison was made between the International Bill of Human Rights and sharia law (21).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography