Peace is not merely the absence of conflict; it is the foundation upon which societies flourish, and individuals thrive. It provides the necessary conditions for progress, development, and the realization of human rights. It is the International Day of Peace, an opportunity for us to recognize and emphasize the crucial link between peace, empowering women and girls, addressing gender inequality, and ensuring that everyone can live to their full potential.
I believe that achieving sustainable peace requires addressing the unique needs and challenges faced by women and girls. To this end, UNFPA’s work in Somalia encompasses several key areas, including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. By providing access to family planning, safe childbirth, and postnatal care, we empower women to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. This not only enhances their well-being but also enables them to contribute meaningfully to society.
Moreover, UNFPA Somalia is actively engaged in efforts to eradicate gender-based violence. We collaborate closely with local communities, religious leaders, civil society organizations, and the government to raise awareness, provide support services to survivors, and advocate for the enforcement of laws and policies that protect women and girls from violence. By addressing this pervasive issue, we create an environment where women and girls can live free from fear and actively participate in peacebuilding.
In parallel to our efforts to empower women and girls, UNFPA Somalia recognizes the critical importance of addressing the vulnerabilities faced by youth and adolescents. We understand that unemployment and lack of opportunities can make them susceptible to the influence of extremist recruiters. Therefore, we are dedicated to equipping young people with the necessary skills for increased employability. Through vocational training, entrepreneurship programs, and mentorship opportunities, we empower youth to become constructive contributors to society, reducing the risk of their involvement with extremist organizations.
UNFPA is implementing the Accelerated Socio-Economic Empowerment of Youth project in Somalia, which aims to build peace, mitigate radicalization, and contribute to stability. The project focuses on improving opportunities for young people to engage in peacebuilding, skills development, income generation, and entrepreneurship. At the local level, UNFPA works with young peace builders, offering trainings on peacebuilding skills and strategies, and helping them develop the skills and knowledge needed to create a safe and peaceful society.
By focusing on the empowerment of women, girls, youth, and adolescents, we at UNFPA, Somalia believe that we are not only addressing their specific needs but also fostering an environment that is conducive to sustainable and lasting peace. When women and girls are empowered, when their rights are protected, and when youth have opportunities for meaningful engagement, societies thrive, and peace flourishes.
On this International Day of Peace, let us reaffirm our commitment to building a world where peace is not an elusive dream but a tangible reality. Let us recognize the essential role of women, girls, youth, and adolescents in peacebuilding and commit to supporting their empowerment. Together, let us walk the pathway to lasting peace, where everyone, regardless of gender or age, can live to their full potential in a peaceful and prosperous world.
Niyi Ojuolape, Country Representative, UNFPA – Somalia