Gender equality. Source: Forbes

Understanding the culture and context of Somali women’s education has a long history based on cultural, religious, economical and societal beliefs. Somali culture allocates women and girls as a subordinate role in the family. Women and girls have a very low representation in both the political and economic sectors, they lack educational opportunities that enable them to obtain knowledge and skills. 

To begin with, cultural norms and practices contribute to unequal low access to educating girls as they are expected to do the household chores with their moms. This could be because of the religious misconceptions they have, They comprehend Islam as its giving primacy to boys but the actual fact is Islam places a great value on education regardless of gender. 

An economic constraint is a factor that stands a barrier to girl’s education because of the poverty that the family has to prioritize who should be sent to school and priorities is always given to boys over the girls. The assumptions are either way she will get married and end up being a housewife. Child marriage and school drop are also other factors contributing to this problem. The girls are supposed to get married before 18 in an arranged marriage and they will drop out of school. See more  Child marriage stories in Somaliland

Zaynab Osman, 16 years old, married at the age of 14. Source: Save the Children

As a result of that, thousands of Somali girls have abandoned their education. Somaliland has one of the world’s lowest enrollment rates for primary-school-age children. Only 30 percent of children are in school, and only 40 percent of those students are girls. The percentage of girls usually drops as they move to higher grades because they undergo FGM and drop out of school (Ajiambo, 2018)

It has been often argued that education is key to giving women better control over their lives. According to (Mülheims and Schröder, 2016), The eleventh and twelfth five-year plan (2007-2012, 2012-2017) has consistently envisaged that achieving high female literacy is an inevitable step towards the achievement of inclusive growth and gender empowerment. 

However, this has resulted in girl’s and women’s education and their careers are not seen as capable as they are since in the past women didn’t receive more schooling compared to men.  Hence, Understanding the differences between women’s and men’s career development and promoting equality is important in today’s society. “A growing body of evidence shows that utilizing the skills and talent of both men and women is beneficial for the society  and country in general” (Guy Ryder, 2015) 

In view of that, this blog is addressing factors influencing the gender gap in the workspace with the influence of women’s education and their career development.

Is a lack of career development and education factors behind the gender gap in the workspace?

The differences between men and women, in particular as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments has shown that there is a wider range of gender gaps in leadership,  participation, and salaries in the workplace in Somaliland. Extensive research has identified that the lack of Career advancement and education are the factors influencing the gender gap in the workplace. There is a less female presence in the workspace, there is a wage gap, they are under-represented in a variety of fields and professions and enter low-paying and low-status jobs, they are less likely to advance to higher levels and their labor market participation is more restricted than men.

According to Nagaad network 2018, the level of female literacy rate in Somaliland is 25.4% Meaning that 74.6% are illiterate. This is a huge number and women are 50.19% of the population (World Bank,2016).  The world economic profile of women shows that women represent 50% of the population, 30% of the labor force constitutes of women perform 60% of the working hours but unfortunately receive only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property. That was back in the ‘80s. But it has remained relatively stable over the past 15 years. In 2018, women earned 85% of what men earned. However that in the globe, The case is different in Somaliland Women are twice as likely as men to be unemployed but actively looking for a job while men are almost twice as likely to rise to positions of leadership in their job. 

The latest available data on labour market statistics is the Labour Force Survey 2012, conducted by the Ministry of Labour with technical support from ILO. In 2012, labour force participation was 29% for females. Only makeup 4% of managers, 5% of technicians, and 5% of professionals.

According to Nagaad 2018, this is the women’s representation in the government.

How does the past affect the current situation of today?

There are some negative constituents that are influencing women’s career development that remains the same throughout the time. Women still have to deal with a number of challenges and have to fight against cultural stereotypes. Women lack confidence because of the stereotypes held by society men in particular concerning women’s abilities and also because women lack the past schooling, leadership training, effective career and quality education that would boost their confidence to seek equal opportunities as men and leadership positions. Women are reluctant to seek leadership positions because they lack confidence, ambition and are afraid of failure (, 2010).

Most gender stereotypes carry messages that claim a natural difference between men and women. According to Inandi (2009) women are prevented from promotion to managerial positions due to the gender stereotypes held about the sexes. He further suggested that more often within most cultures, gender stereotypes and religious beliefs stipulate that the position of educational leadership should be held by men.  

In Somaliland, women’s access to gainful employment opportunities has also been limited. This is due to the traditional gender roles which assigned separate duties for the genders.

A girl doing household chores. Source: UNICEF

Women are expected to stay at home instead of earning incomes from either public or private employers. Women’s improved access to education in the last two decades has led to some progress in their employment opportunities but the Gap is still there. (Nagaad, 2019).

Even though society has transformed and people progressed, past experience affected the current situation of women. Women didn’t get their right to go to school and this has resulted in 74.6% of women being illiterate. Now that the society shifted from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. There is not that much gender inequality to complain but women are lacking the knowledge and skills for the higher leadership positions so man has to occupy because they are not equivalent to these positions.

With all that being said, women need to change their mindset, embrace optimism, be motivated and self-driven, have a goal, and have the trust in themselves that they own the ability, competency, and skills required for leadership. Therefore, it is affirmed that this will intensify their accomplishments in the masculinized world in which they find themselves.

Parents are also in a position of power and have a great role in this, they should not raise their children differently by prioritizing based on their gender. Otherwise, they will grow up with that favoritism and girls will feel unimportant.


Ajiambo, D. (2018). For Many Somali Girls, Education Ends With a Brutal Ritual – Al-Fanar Media. [online] Al-Fanar Media. Available at: (2010). The Leadership Challenge: Women in Management | Department of Social Services, Australian Government. [online] Available at: (2012). Labour Force Survey Launch in Somaliland. [online] Available at:–en/index.html.

Inandi, Y. (2009). ‘The Barriers to Career Advancement of Female Teachers in Turkey and their Levels of Burnout’. Social Behaviour and Personality: An International Journal, Vol. 37, No. 8, p. 1143-2052. Accessed at: af7c-4343e64634ca%40sessionmgr15&hid=105.

Mülheims, K. and Schröder, S. (2016). Social inclusion through lifelong learning in German higher education? Challenges for individuals and higher education institutions. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 18(1), pp.28-45.

Network, N. (2018). Somaliland Gender Gap Assessment. [online] Available at:

World Bank. (2016). Somalia. [online] Available at: