Recent history in the Greater Horn has seen religious and cultural dogma used more and more to subjugate women, and traditional and customary justice systems colluding to restrict women’s human rights. Women from the Horn have been caught in a paradoxical situation: while national laws in most countries guarantee human rights and equality for all, parallel yet legitimate systems of customary laws and of Sharia law continue to violate women’s rights, casting men as the undisputed heads in both private and public life. Plural legal systems mean a lack of accountability, and that women suffer arrests on allegations ranging from indecent dress and behavior to being victims of rape and charged with impunity. SIHA promotes women’s access to justice within a broader context of challenging concepts and practices that perpetrate violence and discrimination through application of militant religion and customary/traditional laws.
SIHA addresses institutional violence through research and knowledge sharing. Relying on women’s testimonies, SIHA collects and shares knowledge on the impacts of applying concepts within religious militancy and traditional practices that contribute to the subordination of women. SIHA sustains its advocacy and support for women’s access to justice across the Horn of Africa through rigorous legal analyses to inform legal reform in line with regional and international human rights mechanisms such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, on women, peace, and security. SIHA accompanies advocacy with the approach of strategic litigation based on the lived realities of women and girls’ experiences with justice and rule of law institutions, and arbitrary application of laws. SIHA also focuses on the incarceration of women in the Greater Horn due to the arbitrary application of laws that subordinate them.