A year of hope, a new dawn, Self determination and crucial decision making; 2011AD a historic year when the war-ravaged region of southern Sudan has to choose either to remain part of the Sudan or to secede and become a country of its own. The South Sudan referendum was a key component of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) between the Sudan’s government and the Sudan’s People Liberation Movement/Army. As a crucial event in the lives of all Southern Sudanese, everybody was up to the task of mobilizing and raising awareness on the importance of the referendum.
Therefore all Southern Sudanese who have reached voting age needed to participate fully without any exceptions. Women gave a break to the stool next to that pan in the kitchen and decide the fate of Southern Sudanese people; given the countless challenges they have faced during the decades of war.
Eve Organization for Women Development as a South Sudanese Organization with an interest of seeing a New Nation spring up; realized the role they can play to achieve the full participation of women therefore mobilization of women was crucial. This is justified by the fact that Southern Sudanese women extremely suffered during the war and deserve dignity; which can only be attained through the ballot box. Apart from that; Women being more than 50% of the total population has a great stake in determining the fate of Southern Sudan. For the secession of Southern Sudan, women’s participation is a top priority.
Eve Organization with support from UNDP took the lead in Central Equatorial state and launched community sensitization campaign targeting women on the voter registration process and later on mobilization for voting ahead of the referendum. The purpose of the massive campaigns was to inform women about the importance of registration for the referendum and mobilize women for a high turnout for the registration and voting. The project covered Terekeka and Juba Counties. Campaigns started from Juba, Gumbo, Rejaf, Nesitu, and Ngangala all the way to Lirya and from Juba through Terekeka all the way to Tali.
On the 20th November 2010, Eve organized a TOT (training of the trainers), which was attended by different women groups from the selected areas to be covered, and representatives from Eve Organization. The training equipped the participants with skills and knowledge on how to organize a registration campaign in their counties and payams, how to communicate effectively the knowledge they have acquired and how to mobilize people in their own locality. Series of campaigns followed the training from the 22th November 2010 and ended with an evaluation on the 1st December, which was satisfactory.
From the 27th December 2010 as people are still enjoying the Christmas and preparing for New Year; Eve Organizing started mock training on the referendum, it taught the participants on how to vote, fold a ballot paper for voting, how to drop it in voting box and how to tick the option you are voting for. The civic and voter education guidebook from South Sudan referendum Commission was used to train the participants during the workshop.
The workshop was followed by a number of field trips for the campaigns from the 28th December 2010; the campaign team had to divide themselves into three groups to reach all the planed areas in time; the groups divided themselves equally and campaigns kicked off in the different counties and payams; the use of posters, T-shirts and fliers with the illustration of registration and voting made it easy to communicate the massage clearly. Since the teams’ adrenaline was high, everybody was ready to give a hand and be part of the history in the making of the new nation to come. EVE volunteers, friends and well-wishers all joined in the campaigns.
The voter and the civic education was a big success; but like any other projects some barriers were encountered, given the deteriorated infrastructural situation of south Sudan, movement of the team within the counties and payams was problems due to the poor roads as well as the distance between one payam to another is far, most of the time the team had to walk for long distances – but it was all worth the struggle.
We at Eve Organization for Women Development can proudly say that our efforts weren’t in vain but it has really contributed to a successful referendum.