Young People Changing the Legal Sector
Khadra Hussein Mohammad, 28, is Somaliland’s National Deputy Prosecutor. Credit: UN Photo
Khadra Hussein Mohammad, 28, is Somaliland’s National Deputy Prosecutor – the first woman to hold such a position in Somaliland. As part of an ongoing process to increase the number of officials with formal legal education in Somaliland, like Khadra, UNDP supports long-term legal education and job placement to fill the justice sector with qualified legal professionals.
Across Somaliland, UNDP is supporting a fundamental shift in legal education and professionalism in the justice sector will help build a robust legal system. UNDP’s support has increased the number of professionals with formal legal education.
After graduating the University of Hargeisa Law School – which was established through UNDP support in 2008 – Khadra joined the Somaliland Lawyers Association. This local organization (also supported by UNDP) connected her to an opportunity to join UNDP sponsored legal training. “UNDP was one of the main factors of my success,” she explains. “UNDP facilitated my training and offered her on-job training.”
At the end of the training, she joined the prosecutor’s office as a paralegal for nearly a year before being appointed Somaliland’s National Deputy Prosecutor.
UNDP focuses on long-term legal education and job placement to fill the justice sector with qualified legal professionals. In 2013, 338 lawyers including 89 women, graduated from Somaliland’s Hargeisa University Law Faculty.
As a public prosecutor, Khadra deals with a range of kinds of cases including serious crimes such theft, gang-related violence, and even terrorism. “You meet all kinds of people in this job. We see new cases almost every day,” she says. She said it is also good that people are now aware that there are women prosecutors. “They come to us, we assist them and in the end they appreciate” she said. This will also contribute to reduce the discrimination among women lawyers.
Khadra is proud of her achievement and the opportunity it affords her to make a difference. In particular, Khadra has seen a significant increase in court cases involving gender-based violence or rape. Khadra says that victims feel comfortable approaching female lawyers. “We can ask them anything and they can feel comfortable with us,” she said.
Despite her success, Khadra knows the challenges involved – her profession has historically been male-dominated. However, with UNDP’s gender-balanced scholarship and internship programme, these dynamics are changing. There are now 75 women working in the legal sector in Somaliland, compared to only 5 women in 2008. This is largely thanks to UNDP’s gender-balanced efforts to foster a well-trained justice sector.
In the last in the last 18 months, 32 women have been hired into the public sector as a direct result of a UNDP legal internships programme. They are now serving in positions in the Judiciary, civil service, Attorney General’s Office and Law Reform Commission.