Gender in Higher Education in Puntland: From Accessibility to Creating Supportive Environment for Women in Higher Education and Research

Female educational attainments are associated with women’s capacity to make informed decisions about various aspects of life, including health, marriage, and reproduction. Similarly, there is a positive relationship between educational attainment and economic productivity, ability to exercise social and political responsibility, and the authority to advocate for individual and group rights. Females have been underrepresented in higher education throughout Somalia. Accessibility to higher education in Somalia has been characterized by high structural inequalities with regards to rural or urban regions, socioeconomic status, and gender. Gender has been the most widespread and persistent basis for inequality in opportunity for access to higher education, and educational output and outcome. This can be attributed to the fact that gender inequality is deeply rooted in the Somali patriarchal society, resulting in marginalization of women in almost all sectors of the society, including higher education, research and decision-making positions. Between 2011-2016, Puntland State of Somalia was one of the regions that experienced the fastest growth of female enrollment in secondary and university education. To discuss the challenges and opportunities facing women in higher education and possible solutions, SIDRA arranged a knowledge exchange conference to discuss ‘gender in higher education in Puntland, Somalia on 21-23 November, 2016. While gender policies exist in HEIs, they are often not applied or relevant. This policy brief is based primarily on the output of the conference.