After years of being largely cut off from the rest of the world due to security concerns, Hudur town in Bakol region is gradually becoming safer. Women and young people have played a key role in improving the situation because they help the security forces at checkpoints and other locations.
“We have to defend ourselves as women,” says the chair of Hudur’s women’s association, Fathima Abdirahman Mahmoud. “If women don’t take an active role in helping to improve security we will be left behind. Nobody else will do it for us.”
Ms Mahmoud says the inclusion of women in the military and police force has also helped.
She emphasised the central role the community plays in enhancing security, especially as all sectors of society are involved.
“Women and the youth are present at each of Hudur city’s six security control points. In the morning a woman and a young person go to the checkpoints to help. They stay there till noon when they are replaced by two others. Those people stay there until the security forces close the checkpoints.”
Ms Mahmoud says women are determined to keep working in security, despite the challenges of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
A member of the women’s association, Salado Mohamed Hasan, and a member of Hudur’s district commitee, Maydago Isaaq, both play an active part in ensuring the town’s security.
“We have to stand up and take part in improving safety in the town,” says Salado Mohamed Hassan said, “We work at the checkpoints even when we are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is difficult but it is the duty of every person to protect his or her area.”
Maydago Isaaq recently returned to Hudur after insecurity forced her to flee the city many years ago. “I refuse to accept trouble from the enemy. I have to defend my country. That is why I come and work at the checkpoints. I have never received any pay for doing this and have never been given security training.”
The chairman of Hudur district, Omar Abdullahi Mohamed Omar, said it would not have been impossible to improve security without the active participation of women. He said his administration is prioritising women.
“Community organisations, including women’s groups, are the backbone of the community. They play a significant role in maintaining the city’s beauty and security, and the government always supports them. We are doing what we can to prioritise women in the local administration, and try to improve the number of women working in our five local government offices, we have prioritized women more. We have created an office of social affairs and nominated a woman to lead it.”
“There were no women in the previous local council in Hudur district,” says Omar Abdullahi Mohamed Omar. “Now there are five. The second vice president is a woman and our security office has a female member.”
Even though the women working to improve security in Hudur do not get paid and have not received any special training, they are determined not to give up as they know that if they do so, the city will become a more dangerous place for everybody.