Posts Tagged ‘South Sudan’

South Sudan Women Leaders light a candle as a symbol of hope and peace at the opening of a consultative meeting in Kampala

South Sudan Women Leaders light a candle as a symbol of hope and peace at the opening of a consultative meeting in Kampala

The recent outbreak of armed conflict in South Sudan, Africa’s youngest nation has led to massive displacement, suffering and killing of thousands of innocent civilians especially the women and children. Amidst desperation and suffering, the women of South Sudan have refused to remain victims but survivors and are demanding to be active participants in the ongoing peace talks taking place in Addis Ababa.

Soon after the outbreak of the conflict, the women picked up the pieces and organized themselves into women’s operation group. They supported each other, sent out strong messages of peace and provided humanitarian assistance to the victims by opening their homes to the displaced people.
I received over 25 families here in Uganda in my house and now I am finding it very hard to look after them, said one Sudanese woman during a consultative meeting in Kampala whose purpose was to provide a platform for South Sudan women to consolidate their voices in order to influence the peace talks taking place in Adis Ababa. Women are taking up the roles of the humanitarian agencies and the government as well. Unfortunately their effort goes unnoticed.

Another woman also commented that we feel so angry, frustrated and embarrassed. When shall we ever enjoy peace? We want to be at the peace table because the bullets do not discriminate between a woman and a man.

The Women of South Sudan are unsung heroines in the liberation struggle of their country. During the liberation war, the women under the ‘Girls Battalion’ pushed both sides to declare a cessation of hostilities. They also played an instrumental role in the 2011 referendum for their independence.

Therefore their efforts must be recognized and funded as provided for in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000). Therefore including the women in the peace process, is not simply the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do.

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The recent   press reports of ethnic clashes   in South Sudan over cattle  and other resources  indicate that South Sudan is still  far away from attaining peace and stability  after gaining its independence in July 2011. The situation remains worse especially for women and children because they are the most affected. According to IPS Gender Wire, an online news agency thousands of women and children are being abducted and over 1,000 people have died this year.

The future of these young girls like these ones is at stake

The conflict is being attributed to the easy availability of arms and cultural norms that portray the ownership of cattle and women as a sign of success.

Last year I was in Juba for the training of health workers and these reports confirms the discussions we had during the training. The health workers from Central Equatorial State  informed us  that  in some cultures, young girls are booked for marriage and the man who pays the highest number of cows takes the girl. In otherwords, marriage process is like a marketplace where girls are auctioned and the highest bidder takes her. As a women’s rights activist, I find this very disturbing. How long will this go on? When will the men realize that God created man and woman to support and complement each other.

While some countries seem to have made some strides in towards achieving gender equality and other MDGs, the story is different in post conflict South Sudan. As a result of instability, the women of Southern Sudan missed out on all the developments and benefits of and within the women’s movement world wide.

Women are still regarded as men properties and that is why men have to go out of their way to acquire such property and hence cattle rustling and the ethnic clashes. The situation is worsened by the cultural and traditional beliefs and practices in South Sudan which put men in a superior position and regard women as inferiors.

Therefore with  the ushering in of  new state, the women of South Sudan  require a lot of support from  both the Government of  South Sudan and the entire world women’s movement to enable them  catch up on what they missed and  demand for their rights and dignity as human being.

Loyce dancing with women at Lobonok

Faces of S.Sudan women

Faces of Resilience

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