Single mother of five defying gender norms in Somalia’s capital by driving a rickshaw taxi.
Traditionally, women, regardless of geographics, are challenged in the workforce.
The women of Somalia bear an unequal brunt of the hardships occasioned by poverty, conflict, and clan-based culture which promotes strict male hierarchy and authority. This is further exacerbated by religious and cultural limitations on the role and status of women in Somali society. As a result, deeply rooted gender inequality prevails; Somali women are either excluded from formal decision-making and asset ownership or operate through a patriarchal filter.
Saynab Abdikarin has ventured into an industry that was exclusively male-dominated in conservative Somalia. She has been driving tricycles on the streets of Mogadishu for 11 months.
She is one of many incredible women who are out there, with little fanfare, carving a space for other women.
It is usually a profession reserved for men. But Saynab Abdikarin does not care. She is the first woman to drive a rickshaw, those small taxis that are very common in Mogadishu.
“I don’t have anyone to support me. If one of my children is not feeling well, I have no one to help me,” Saynab Abdikarin said.
Saynab had little choice but to put herself together emotionally and financially. She made history in her hometown of Mogadishu, the Capital of Somalia when she brought herself a tricycle, known as “bajaj,” and turned it into a rickshaw taxi picking up customers and taking them to their destinations for a fee. She is the only woman to undertake such a task.
Abdikarin’s career choice doesn’t come without risks. Insecurity is a major concern for all rickshaw drivers in Mogadishu, and like her male colleagues, Saynab says there are certain neighborhoods she avoids going to, especially at night.
“Some men encourage me, others say that women should stay at home and not work.”
Somalia is a country located on the horn of Africa, with a population of almost 14 million people. Although women and girls in Somalia consist of 50% of the country’s population, women and men are far from equal.
Somalia has one of the youngest populations in Africa, with more than 70 percent under the age of 30. But three in four young Somalis are without formal employment, according to the World Bank, as conflict and insecurity drag on.