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Somalia: First Women Lawyers Association Opens

First women lawyers association opens in Somalia with UN help

23 July 2008 - The first women lawyers association in Somalia has been established in the Somaliland region with the help of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

"It will take time for the male-dominated legal profession to understand and accept the importance of women lawyers in society," Antonia Lulvey, UNDP's judiciary project manager, said.

UNDP said in a statement yesterday that the association, which was created earlier this year, currently has five members, with a further 17 women set to graduate from the University of Hargeisa in September. The UN agency has provided grants to enable women to attend the law faculty, as well as supplying equipment, training and financial support to the association.

The sole practising female lawyer in Somaliland until last year was Ifra Aden Omar, who currently heads the association. With UNDP help, Ms. Omar provides free legal aid services to women and juvenile cases - most commonly rape, domestic violence, divorce, child custody, child maintenance and inheritance.

Currently there are no female prosecutors or judges in Somaliland, according to UNDP, which says it is in discussions with local officials on how to support new female law graduates to practise either as prosecutors or trainee judges.

ENDS

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