Madan Fumni, UN Women Country Representative giving a speech on the ceremony that marked the launching of the Women Political Strategy
By Yobu Annet
South Sudanese women have strategized to massively join politics in order to influence policy for gender diversity, good governance and sustainable peace. A political strategy to guide and strengthen women political leadership is launched.
Juba, 13 March 2018; The launch brought together women parliamentarians, women politicians, heads of diplomatic mission, the UN Women Country Representative, State Minister of Gender for Jubek State Ms. Rose Lisok and civil society Organizations. Among the high level representatives was also the Norwegian Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security Ms. Marita Sørheim-Rensvik. The event was officiated by the speaker of the Transition National Legislative Assembly Right Hon. Anthony Lino Makana.
The Strategy for enhancing women leadership and political participation was developed in partnership with the Women Parliamentary Caucus with support from Norway. EVE Organization carried out a series of consultative meetings with women parliamentarians, women political leaders from different political parties, women ministers, women community leaders and women CSO leaders in the states of Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Jonglei, Lakes and Western Bahr el Ghazal states of South Sudan.
“This initiative is a start of an important partnership with women political leaders in South Sudan”, said Rita Martin the Executive Director of EVE Organization in a statement during the launch. “The many years of conflict have deprived the women of South Sudan from any meaningful progress. Despite the challenges, time and again, the strong women of this country have shown resilience and against all odds, are still persistent and would like to take part in making South Sudan a great nation”. The statement further read.For South Sudanese women to effectively contribute towards durable peace and stability, there is a need to invest in projects that aim at enhancing the capacities of women leaders in the country.
Hon. Margret, the Deputy Chairperson of the women parliamentary caucus commended the partnership with EVE Organization and said that with this strategy the MPs can be able to improve on the status of the women at both national level and the grassroots.“We hope this strategy will help us execute our programs effectively in order to overcome the challenges that women face in the cities and rural areas” she said. She urged the stakeholders to help women in politics, civil societies at grassroots for women rights because women are vulnerable during conflict.
The Norwegian Special Envoy for Women Peace and Security said the document could be a vital tool for civil society, academia, the UN, the government and parliament alike. The strategy confirms that the commitment to women’s empowerment is not a fashion of the day, but a long-term and strategic foundation for women’s way forward- towards inclusive growth and sustainable peace in South Sudan.The representative of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Sudan Ms. Signe Gilen expressed her appreciation and stated that supporting women groups is key to the desired change in the country. As partners to the South Sudan peace process, it’s their responsibility to try and open space for women in the peace negotiations.
The Norwegian Representative further noted that South Sudan is very close to the heart of Norwegians and so are women’s rights and gender equality. Women, peace and security is high on our political agenda and Norway is honored to have played – and play – key roles in peace processes. “We are also trusted with dialogue initiatives that might lead to formal peace processes, which means that we have first hand experience with inclusion and gender in mediation. That gives us the opportunity and the responsibility to contribute to the implementation of women, peace and security commitments - because we are in a position to do so.” She added.
Women parliamentarians were advised to prepare for the post conflict period. “We are going to have elections and new systems of offices. Where are the women in these processes?” asked Fumni the UN Women Country Representative. “There is not going to be many resources unfortunately for women voices, but whatever it is going to take, we are going to remain in politics”. Women’s being in political parties can translate into accessing services such as health and education.
“The few women in leadership and politics should mentor the young women in the country to take part in politics”, Fumni said.
South Sudan still has no enough women in leadership and in the political space for young women to aspire to. Questions raised about the 35 percent representation demanded by the women in the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) include - when it is time to go for elections, how are we going to get the 35% if we don’t prepare now? Are the women ready to contest? Is there any support for the women to start thinking about elections, to start connecting with their constituencies, to let them know the leaders they want in the post transition?
Read the political Strategy to get answers to these questions.