Training female researchers in Mogadishu

Research in Somalia is often male-dominated. Very few female researchers do participate in the design, data collection, analysis, and writing of research reports in Somalia. Most of those who participate in research conduct the data collection and do not get an opportunity for data analysis and contributing to the report writing. Somali Public Agenda felt the gender imbalance in the research field in Somalia and discussed how the organization can contribute to filling the gap.  

Without looking for funding or writing proposals, which often takes time, Somali Public Agenda Center for Learning and Development decided to offer a free 6-days qualitative research methods training to qualified female candidates in Mogadishu. The training aimed at a achieving the objectives below:

  • To equip trainees with knowledge, skills, and practices of qualitative research methods;
  • To familiarize trainees with research design, data collection, data analysis, and writing research reports;
  • To lessen perceptions/misperception among young Somali females about research as being solely male domain; and
  • To advance the participants’ understanding of ethical considerations in qualitative research.

On 18 November, the training was advertised on our social media accounts. Applicants were required to have a minimum of an undergraduate degree, preferably in social sciences or a related field. Last year undergraduate students were also eligible to apply. Other requirements included good oral and written communication skills and a passion to develop research and analysis skills.

Applicants had 18 days for the application. Close to 30 applications were received. The screening was tough and the team spent more time evaluating the applicants and their skill sets. In the end, the most qualified candidates were selected by a panel.

The training started on Saturday, 12 December 2020, and ended on Thursday, 17 December 2020. Somali Public Agenda Executive Director Mahad Wasuge and fellow Mohamud Garre facilitated the training. The training was interactive and included practical application of qualitative research tools and techniques; fieldwork and participant-led presentations; interactive group exercises and discussions; and relevant and concise course materials. The topics covered included qualitative research design, interviews, and focus groups, note-taking and recording, ethical considerations, data coding and analysis, and report writing.

During the six days, the female researchers were able to design research questions, conduct interviews, transcribe the interviews, and participate in the coding and analysis of the interview data.

The participants were engaging and expressed appreciation for the quality of the training. Some of the participants were already engaged or were working on studies, and the training gave them an opportunity to ask questions to the facilitators and better understand the work they were already doing. Moreover, some of the participants were members of research and advocacy organizations. Somali Public Agenda wishes that the skills from the training would help them perform their work better in their respective organizations.

One of the main feedbacks received was that the training needed more time. For instance, participants proposed that it would have been good if they had  two or more days to conduct quality interviews and transcribe them. Others suggested if SPA can design a training programme of about 3 months in the future where trainees could work on an ongoing research project and produce output by the end of the training.

The participants of the training were energetic, engaging, and aspiring female researchers. Somali Public Agenda believes that giving research opportunities to the young female graduates would inspire more females to join the research field and write about the pressing gender, social, economic, and political challenges in Somalia.

It was the first training offered by the SPA Center for Learning and Development and the feedback has been very positive. The Center plans to do another similar free training in early 2021 for both genders. The Center will also consider designing a 3-months training programme where trainees can work on a research project.

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