Mogadishu women back in the driver's seat

By Ali Adam in Mogadishu

February 14, 2013

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For years al-Shabaab outlawed women from driving in Mogadishu, but now, more than a year after Somali and allied forces pushed the militant group out of the capital, women are back behind the wheel.

Farhiya Gelle, 34, who recently came back to Somalia after living in England for more than 10 years, said there are many women drivers in Mogadishu now, a sign that security has improved significantly in the capital.

She, like many women who have returned from abroad as well as women who never left, is now able to go anywhere in the city with her car.

"At first I was a little afraid, but now I feel okay because people in Mogadishu are used to seeing us drive and it is a normal thing for them," Gelle told Sabahi.

Amina Hussein, an 18-year-old student at Mogadishu University, said her life has changed since she learned how to drive a year ago, as she is more independent and does not need to rely on a driver whenever she wants to go somewhere.

"Many people stare at me when I am driving my car because they are surprised that a woman is driving," she told Sabahi. "I think it is because they have not seen women drivers before. I have no problem driving, and I will keep at it, now that I have seen other women like me driving."

Men getting accustomed to seeing women drivers

Maryam Moalim Ali, a 31-year-old mother of five, said many aspects of her daily life are easier now that she has learned how to drive.

"It was a problem for me when there were a few female drivers because everyone used to stare at me in amazement and I was even forced to tint my car windows to avoid being seen," she said. "But, that is over now."

She drives her children to school and goes places by herself if she needs to. If one of her children gets sick, Ali said she no longer needs to wait for her husband to drive them to the hospital.

Now that women drivers are becoming more common in Mogadishu, some residents are beginning to notice and see it as a positive sign for Somalia.

Diyib Hashi Nur, a 37-year-old business owner in Hamar Weyne market, said the recent increase in women drivers represents progress. He said it was good for the city to have women driving their own cars.

"I am happy to see female drivers in Mogadishu and I encourage every woman who is able to drive to do so, because not every woman can have a personal driver," Nur said.

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Reader's Comments

  • William
    July 16, 2013 @ 11:14:06PM

    It is a good idea. Let them learn how to drive as everyone has the freedom to drive a car.

  • ff
    April 28, 2013 @ 04:12:57AM

    This has to be ceased.

  • mohamed biyonde
    April 26, 2013 @ 02:42:08AM

    It is truly an issue to be very much happy about.

  • maxamed saleebaan maxamed
    April 18, 2013 @ 12:58:38PM

    First, I am not a Somali but I am a Somalilander. Secondly I would like to clearly know what will happen if Somalia and Somaliland are merged?

  • barkhad
    April 18, 2013 @ 03:50:30AM

    It is possible that the powerful Kenyan president changes the boundaries of the whole land .

  • c/laahi
    April 16, 2013 @ 05:18:15PM

    Peace be upon you all citizens of Somalia wherever you may live. After greetings, talking about women driving, in my opinion, it is not a good thing for them because we are Muslims and in Islam it is not right for women to drive vehicles and if we think that development of democracy is good. Then, let the women walk naked while showing their breasts and even walking in public with just brassiere and bikini kkkkkkkkkkkkkk

  • maariya cabdi
    April 10, 2013 @ 06:13:29AM

    Thanks to God, Somalia has achieved. I want to tell them to protect their nation and the blue Somali national flag with the star. May its enemies fall.

  • anissa omar mahamoud
    April 8, 2013 @ 02:03:36PM

    I need to understand better about the issues of Somalia.

    April 8, 2013 @ 03:07:50AM


  • cabdifitaax maxamed jamac
    April 5, 2013 @ 10:14:21AM

    Somalis have become people who hate their constructive ones and love those who cause destruction and they assassinate anyone who they see execute his duties well. So what shall we do if people hate their development-oriented ones and love those who cause destruction? I am saying you should be cautious of those people who hate Somalis' interest and remember your hereafter.

  • zakicabdulaahi
    April 1, 2013 @ 03:15:28PM

    Somalis have become people who hate their constructive person and love their bad person and force anyone seen governing well to resign. So what can we do if people hate constructive leaders and love the destructive ones? I am saying let's be cautious of those people who hate the interest of the people of Somalia and remember that we will all go to hereafter.

  • mohmmed shekh abdi
    March 30, 2013 @ 12:30:54PM

    Truly, my brothers I don't personally think it is in the honor of the Somali girls to drive vehicles and I would like to urge you to advise them about such issues. In my opinion, they think such issue as civilization but it is not. Peace on you.

  • Ishmael
    March 20, 2013 @ 01:27:19PM

    They too have a right. They should lead too!!

  • Rooda
    March 2, 2013 @ 02:30:47AM

    It is happiness and goodness gotten by women and they only remain with protest to reconcile Al-Shabaab and Somalia.

  • cumar faarax yalaxoow
    February 28, 2013 @ 06:10:44AM

    February 28, 2013 @ 08:01:27PM February 19, 2013 @ 08:01:27PM Peace be upon you. The Islamic scholars in Somalia wherever they are at the moment have made me happy for they have finally realized what they are expected to do. A lot of struggle is needed in the fight against the lost ideologies being propagated using the names of Islamic clerics and also overcoming their spread. You need to wake up the Somali public to avoid falling into the ideology trapping once again and never to be cheated again. If people have less religious knowledge, then it will always be a problem for them and they are in great danger of being miseld in the name of religion. You need to overcome the lost ideologies by giving lectures at mosques, Madrassahs, schools, universities and all other meeting points. If you practice that, I am sure your message will reach most of the population which will help people overcome the challenges of lost ideologies and will free people from extremism. The people being used for extremism are your own children and your brothers and not people who descended from the heavens. I am praying to the almighty God that He intervenes on behalf of the people suffering from extremism and guide the people who mislead children and kill our clerics.

  • cabdinaasir jaamac bulaale(bunaya)
    February 25, 2013 @ 09:56:12AM

    I say it is a great development if our women drive vehicles.

  • Siid yare
    February 21, 2013 @ 02:23:53AM

    Women are lying because Al-Shabaab did not refuse them to drive vehicles but they were working in their best interest.

  • Siid yare
    February 21, 2013 @ 02:16:53AM

    It is not in the best interest of women to drive vehicles because they may encounter problems.

  • محمدمحمود
    February 18, 2013 @ 06:54:43AM

    This case is pathetic and it means subordination to those who destroyed this world, especially the Somalis. I am afraid if you continued in your shameful justifications, that you would continue getting our distressed and occupied nation more involved. Fear God as to your nation and children. "You are all guardians and you will be held responsible for your subjects.."

  • Dagan
    February 18, 2013 @ 06:38:36AM

    I really liked this article. It is good.

  • عبدالله
    February 15, 2013 @ 03:48:00PM

    They lie to attract the people’s attention Since when the Al-Shabab have the ability to prevent the woman from driving the car?

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