Equal rights for women and girls is a shared struggle across the world.
In South Sudan, the gender gap has been exacerbated by conflict, a patriarchal culture and age-old customs that marginalise women’s rights.
While efforts have been made to ensure women and men are on an equal footing in all walks of life, much remains to be done.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), in partnership with the South Sudan Peace Monitoring and Advocacy Group, recently hosted a training for 55 women parliamentarians, civil society activists and business owners on the need for gender responsive governance.
The forum saw free and frank discussions.
“As women, we often identify ourselves by our father’s name or our husband’s name. We should be proud of our own identity and work hard to build it,” said Diako Pauline, a newly appointed member of Western Equatoria’s State Legislative Assembly. “I am very grateful for this training. I am a new Member of Parliament, and I have much to learn. The leadership lessons I have learnt here are invaluable.”
For Hanan Idia Elias, an advocacy officer from a non-governmental organisation in Yambio, the takeaway is simple: Women can do anything they set their minds on.
“This training has taught me how women can compete with men and be equally effective leaders. It’s a question of being creative and committed to the communities we serve. There is no reason we shouldn’t be involved in making decisions that impact the future of our country,” Elias added.
Women are powerful agents of change and can usher in the far-reaching benefits of diversity and gender parity if they are involved in decision making.
“Women make up 50% of South Sudan’s population,” Theresa Siricio, one of the workshop’s facilitators and member of the South Sudan Peace Monitoring and Advocacy Group. “The voices, opinions and needs of half a society can never be ignored. So, my advice to all of you is: Be fearless, speak up and speak out about the issues that impact you directly,” she recommended.
“We are here to help women and girls in South Sudan build a gender-equal future,” said Patricia Njoroge, a Gender Affairs Officer with the UN Peacekeeping mission. “We will continue building capacities among women and girls, especially, as the country moves towards eventual elections.”Click below to share this article