Women in the de facto soveriegn republic of Somaliland are challenging their expected role as subservient.
Hargeisa’s marketplace is teeming with female workers, challenging assumptions about the subservient place of women in Islam.
“Of course women are working, they are strong, they do not have the luxury of being anything but strong,” said Edna Adan Ismail, Somaliland’s former foreign minister and founder of a women’s hospital in this overwhelmingly Muslim region of the Horn of Africa.
The role of women in Somalia changed dramatically after the country’s longtime dictator was overthrown in 1991, prompting the collapse of the economy and leaving scores of men unemployed. Women began earning money in large part by doing small tasks that men are too proud to perform, such as selling fruit, tailoring clothes or running beauty salons, said Shamis Barre, who works for the humanitarian group CARE International to help train Somali women in marketable skills.