The Independent Somaliland Civil Society Organizations (ISCO Somaliland) regrets and condemns the Somaliland Ministry of Youth and Sports’ decision to cancel the first women’s national football tournament. The Ministry’s decision said it is against Islamic Sharia women to play outdoor games. The Ministry issued the decision the same day the games were scheduled to start.

The ISCO Somaliland is concerned about the increasing pressure on women’s issues, and the selective application of strict interpretation of “Sharia” on women issues. The measures of the Ministry are against Somaliland laws, and it will put an extra burden on women to exercise their fundamental rights and life enjoyment.

The Independent Somaliland Civil Society organizations (ISCO Somaliland) calls the Somaliland Ministry of Youth and Sports to reverse its decision urgently and allow the young girls to hold their football tournament without interruptions, and should not impose special rules on women footballers.

We are calling on the Somaliland government to respect women’s rights under the Somaliland constitution. Somaliland has one of the best democracies in the region, that its citizens have the power to elect their representatives through polling stations. Women are nearly 50% of the voters in every election, but the outcome of these elections became a male favored since they are the least represented in leadership positions including the elected officials. Women secure only 2.7% of 407 directly elected officials including the House of Representatives, the Local Councils, and the Presidential, and 6% of the 214 highest government nominated positions.


On Thursday, 17 December 2020, the Ministry of Youth and Sports issued a decision cancelling women football tournament scheduled to start in Somaliland on the same day. The Ministry’s decision said the game conflicted Sharia law. A few weeks ago, the Ministry concluded men’s football tournament. Recently, the House of Representatives approved amended sexual offences bill that contained provisions punishing survivors of rape, outlawing forensic evidence and rejecting women as witnesses for rape cases. The Bill is allegedly based on “Sharia” law. Similarly, women’s quota for political participation was rejected.

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