Judith Gardner with Amina Mohamoud Warsame

‘Only a fool will not consult his wife and seek her opinion.’1

This chapter was compiled largely from material generated during a workshop held with the book’s contributors in October 1997. The participants whose viewpoints and analysis this chapter represents are: Noreen Michael Mariano, Zeynab Mohammed Hassan, Rhoda M. Ibrahim, Fowzia Musse, Sadia Musse Ahmed, Habiba Osman, Amina Sayid, Sara Haid, and Ladan Affi.

During the workshop participants, who had not previously met, shared their personal experiences of the war and its impact on women. They frequently referred to the fact that, unlike men, women have a dual clan identity and that this is why women have been at the ‘centre of suffering’ – a phrase several used to describe their position in the middle of conflict between their birth relatives and their family through marriage. At the same time they said women were also at the forefront of grassroots peace-building. (As the accounts in Chapter 9 testify, this dual clan identity also represents a major barrier to women’s full participation in a male-dominated clan-based political system.)

This chapter sheds light on what participants meant by women’s dual clan identity. It also describes how the Somali system of kinship, or clan, operates differently for men and woman, which is fundamental to the way the war and its aftermath have affected men and women differently.