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Somali women find a voice

In a special report from Djibouti, the BBC's Andrew Harding examines how Somalia's recent elections have empowered one sector of the population.

For the first time in this war-ravaged country, women have been given seats in the parliament.

At the moment, it is still a parliament in exile - formed at a peace conference in the neighbouring state of Djibouti. However, Sahra Korshel, one of the 25 new female MPs, says the exile may not continue for long.

"As long as we have one voice, as long as we are committed , as long as we believe what we are doing and why we are doing , we believe and we are convinced that we will overcome," she says.

However, the women will have their work cut out. Somalia is a deeply conservative, clan-based, Muslim country. Men call the shots, and shoot the guns though, women MPs like Asha Haji Elmi believe that they can make a difference.

"Not now but in the future, yes, because we are already one step ahead of men," she says.

Chaos, after all, is their speciality. Somalia's warlords and their rival clan militias have profited from anarchy.

They have little reason to welcome the return of centralised government.

Some have threatened to use force to block the new parliament and its choice of president


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