On the 31 May 2014; with tears in their eyes, broken hearts, and hope of restoring peace, women of South Sudan ahead of the impending IGAD mediated peace negotiations scheduled on 09 June 2014; came together to call for peace through prayers under the theme from the bible; the book of 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says “If my people which are call by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land”. Funded by UN Women, a national day of prayer was organized by South Sudan Women Platform for peace which consist of different women groups, organizations and individual activists to dedicate the nation to God and ask for a divine intervention to give guidance and wisdom to the leaders as they engage in the peace process and also heal the land and families that had been affected by the crisis.The voice of the women was “give peace a chance”. Decades of conflicts and barely two years of independence the country was dragged into futile war where women and children bears the brunt of the war, most of them were killed brutally, raped, mishandled by the military and displaced in their own country. One woman said “we are tired of burying our sons and husbands, we are tired of being refugees in other people’s countries; this time round I am not going anywhere, but we will pray to God to have mercy on us and see our suffering”.
The women started the day by a peaceful march from Dr. John Garang’s Mausoleum up to Nyakuron Cultural Centre where the prayers took place, the sermon was preceded by the Pentecostal church with a participation of the different other churches including the Catholic Church, Episcopal Church and the Seventh Day’s Adventist Church.At exactly 12:00mid day; the whole congregation lit a candle of hope and peace for South Sudan and prayed; in Solidarity; Women in Ethiopia and Uganda also lit candles for the women of South Sudan at the same time.
The prayer was attended by more than a thousand women and men including youth; Government officials; parliamentarians; NGOs and UN representatives; who are all concerned about the well being of the country. The National day of prayer is one of the many other activities that the women will conduct in the next six months which includes the development of South Sudan Women’s position paper on the ongoing peace process; a national conference for women; support and visit to the displaced women and a continuous participation in the ongoing peace process to ensure that women’s agenda is adequately included in the process.
The representative of the ministry of gender encouraged the women to stand firm and contribute effectively in the ongoing peace process, Ms. Agnes Wasuk of South Sudan Council of Churches urged the women to continuously put pressure and pray for peace to prevail in South Sudan. Dr. Julia Duany; the vice chancellor of Dr. John Garang’s University called on the Youth not to allow themselves to be used to fight a war without a cause, Rita Martin the director of EVE Organization and a representative of the organizing committee call on the Women of South Sudan to avoid hate talks and not fuel the conflict, but rather be peace builders. She also advised the young girls to seriously learn from what the women are doing, as they are the future leaders of the country.South Sudan Women Platform for Peace was established in March 2014. It consist of different women groups, organizations and individual activists who are concerned about the ongoing conflict in South Sudan and its impact on the women of South Sudan. The national prayer day was successful and thanks to women of south Sudan and the Platform, which seeks to effectively engage in the peace process through direct participation as well as continuous advocacy.