When they lost access to their farms and livestock the affected men were unable to meet expectations of providing for their families, thereby losing their sense of worth as men. It is part of the strategy of war, whereby one patriarchy attacks the worth of the other. (ACORD 2001: 30)

Whilst some men are taking on household duties such as cooking and looking after the children, by and large domestic responsibili­ties are still seen as women’s work. Where there is access to schooling, the true cost of the change in gender relations at family level is paid for by daughters, for whom the chance of even attaining primary level education, already low before the war, significantly diminishes when their mother is the breadwinner and needs their assistance in the home.


1. In a 1993 survey Save the Children found 38 per cent of women in the six major towns in Somaliland were de facto household heads.

2. Ibrahim Nur (2001) ‘Somalia Case Study’, Gender Sensitive Programme Design and Planning in Conflict-Affected Situations (London: ACORD, unpublished).

3. Nurrudin Farah (2000) Yesterday, Tomorrow – Voices from the Somali Diaspora, (London: Cassell) p 157.