A New Generation in Somalia

Nadia is in her third year of law studies. Credit: UN Photo.

Nadia is in her third year of law studies. Credit: UN Photo.

In Somalia, there is a new generation of young female law students who hope to use their education to build a strong and fair justice system.

UNDP, through the Rule of Law Access to Justice Project, has partnered with Somali universities and the Ministry of Justice to enhance the capacities and effectiveness of the courts and judiciary. UNDP provides scholarships for aspiring lawyers and supports graduate internships that place qualified students in the justice sector.

Nadia Mohamoud Mohamed, a third year law student, is one of the beneficiaries of the scholarship programme. She graduated from Al-Zubeyr Secondary School in Mogadishu in 2012.

“While a student at Mogadishu University, I have significantly enhanced my knowledge and skills and I am confident that when I graduate I will be able to practice as a Human Rights lawyer,” she said. 

“I was very lucky to have received this scholarship opportunity because otherwise it would not be possible for me to be here,” she added. “My mother can’t afford to pay the university fees and is struggling to make a living for our family, and my father has another family.”In 2015, UNDP is providing for 149 scholarships for university legal studies in Mogadishu and Bosaso. 63 of these students are female. An additional 55 graduate interns, 20 of whom are women, are being supported to work in institutions including the Attorney General’s Office, the Higher Judicial Council, the police, legal aid centres, local human rights NGOs, regional ministries and the Parliament.

Zainab Abdullahi Diriye is in her third year of studies on the scholarship programme. Originally from Galkayo in Puntland, her mother was left to provide for the family after her father died.

“I can’t express what this scholarship means to me,” Zainab said. “When I finished secondary school, my mother told me that she could not afford my university fees and that she needed me to assist her to support our family. But it was hard for me to accept this, because I thought that to keep studying and get a degree was the best way to break the cycle of suffering in my family.”

Zainab said that she was committed to enrolling at the Faculty of Law at Mogadishu University. “I found out about the scholarship opportunity and when the University learned about my situation, they offered me the scholarship.”

Like Nadiaand Zainab, many Somalis are driving development and contributing to transformation within their societies. Important changes – such as more women in decision-making, empowered local authorities, and access to livelihoods – are paving the way for a stable, peaceful, and vibrant Somalia. Among the scholarship graduates in March 2015 at Mogadishu University that UNDP spoke to, students wanted to become prosecutors, judges, legal advisors to government, and legal aid lawyers.

“I want to pay back to the community what I have been given,” said Zainab.

With support from the EU, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands, UNDP's, UNSOM's, UNICEF's, UNOD's and UNOPS' integrated Rule of Law Project (RoL) provides support to the justice and police in South Central: Mogadishu; Galmudug administration, Jubaland and South West Administration; In Puntland: Garowe, Bossaso and Gardo; and in Somaliland: All six regions (Hargeisa, Burao and Borama, Sanaag, Saahil Sool).