The Government Minister Promoting youth inclusion

Twenty-seven-year-old Hodan Said, based in Garowe, Somalia, is the Deputy Minister of the Puntland Ministry of Labour, Youth & Sports.

When the Every Voice Counts (EVC) programme started in Somalia, Hodan worked for the Ministry of Internal Affairs & Democratisation in Puntland. In this role, she witnessed EVC connecting young people with government officials, giving them the opportunity to contribute to decision-making. Hodan herself participated in EVC forums focused on the importance of including women and youth in politics. “The programme motivated and energised me.

Hodan has since become a role model both within the EVC programme and beyond, representing the possibilities for young people, particularly women. She explains: “It is different when you have someone like you representing you at the decision-making table. I understand the situation of women and youth and will fight for them.”

As both a power holder and a young woman, Hodan recognises the impact she can have. Through meetings with clan elders and communities, Hodan has persistently advocated for the inclusion of women and youth in decision-making.

“My ambition is to reach higher positions of public service to be able to affect positive changes in the lives of my community.”

Hodan Said

She explains: “When we were working on the selection process for local councils we were provided with lists of male-only prospective councillors. Sometimes it took many days to convince elders to include women in the selection process. I have contributed to changing attitudes and a great number of female councillors were ultimately nominated, some of them reaching deputy mayor. I have contributed to changing the belief in our society that women cannot achieve or contribute to the public sector.”

Hodan’s advice to other young women seeking office is to connect with and contribute to the community, adding: “They need to show persistence, patience, teamwork and decision-making skills when running for political and public office. I am also encouraging women who hold office to set a good example.”