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The impact of the December 2013 conflict on women and the participation of women in the South Sudan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          The situation of South Sudanese women during this period deteriorated dangerously: according to individual testimonies; circumstances forced many women and girls to engaged in transactional sex to gain access to food or water for their families; commonly known in Juba as “quick take away”; parents encourage their daughters to marry and reduce the number of mouths to feed and as a means of protection for their girls in a conflict situation. Rape and sexual assault has become the order of the day committed by both warring parties with an objective to inflict pain and humiliation. During Eve Organization’s visit to Rubkona camps in Unity state in April 2014; women reported cases of extreme violence; some women were reportedly raped then executed, some were forced to have sex with their biological sons at gun points. The little economic support they had was totally smashed, which left them with no means of feeding their families. Some families have been shattered with children left all alone and husbands killed at the frontlines which left them psychologically tortured with no psycho-social support. One woman said; “I used to be a successful business woman in Bentiu with a big restaurant, all government officials, UN and NGOs used to be my clients, but now see me, I have lost everything, I am left with completely nothing, my business destroyed; my house burnt down and I am now living in UNMISS with my children – I can’t believe this” she said.

 

Women’s participation in the Peace Process

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           In the first phase of the negotiations of the South Sudan peace talks in Addis Ababa, which led to the signing of the cessation of hostilities agreement; three women from SPLM-IO were, for the first time in such discussions, part of the delegations. In the first phase of the negotiations, the SPLM-IO’s 10-person negotiating team included three women, whereas, the delegation of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) to the peace process consisted entirely of men, who are mostly government officials; ministers, generals and parliamentarians. However, in the second phase, the government added three women to its negotiating team. This change has been to a large extent a result of a sustained advocacy of the civil society in South Sudan. The below table reflects the analysis of EVE Organization representatives in the peace process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          Women activists, organizations and groups, such as the South Sudan Women Leaders for Peace, held several consultative meetings in Juba, Nairobi and Kampala to consolidate women's voices and influence the peace talks. In one of the consultations with IGAD, the women demanded an immediate inclusion of at least 25 percent of South Sudanese women in the peace process. They also demanded the creation of a women's bloc, as well as adequate representation of other stakeholders, such as political parties, the SPLM leaders, former detainees, CSOs and faith-based organizations in the negotiations. The table below shows the percentage of women's participation in the South Sudan peace process. While a final peace agreement is yet to be reached, the South Sudanese women present at the negotiation table have been vocal in raising issues concerning the impact of conflict on women, especially issues around transitional justice, reconciliation and healing, reparation for war survivors, and transitional security arrangements. They are also lobbying for 40 percent women's representation in all institutions of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU), including in ministerial positions. Women have also called for an adequate representation in the monitoring of the implementation of the peace agreement. Women's groups and coalitions such as the South Sudan Women Platform for Peace (SSWPP) have been actively lobbying within the country, as well as in Addis Ababa, to ensure that women's positions and interests are guaranteed in the peace agreement and in is implementation.

 

          This is the first time that South Sudanese women have been able to participate in peace negotiations, and it reflects the impact of women's advocacy for participation in peace processes. The women of South Sudan have played a key role in the country's liberation struggle, and will continue to raise their voices loud and clear as the world's youngest nation seeks to restore peace and stability amid the recent conflict.

After the historic split of the Africa’s largest country, South Sudan became the youngest country in the world, but since then challenges and wreckage had been its champion. During its first years of independence, an oil stalemate with neighboring Sudan, inter-communal violence, persistent rebellions by splinter militia groups, increasingly controlled political space, corruption, and limited economic opportunities troubled the young nation. In the midst of looking for solution for the problems; the 15 December 2013 violence broke in the heart of Juba the capital city, between soldiers loyal to South Sudan President Salva Kiir and others loyal

 to the former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar which quickly spread to Unity, Upper Nile and Jongolei states. The devastating violence claimed lives of thousands, over 1.9 million people fled their homes, and more than 325,000 sought refuge in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda because of violence and fear. Majority of women and children are caught in the middle of the warring faction.

 

           The women movement in South Sudan had barely started to strongly pick momentum before the December 2013 events; however the current situation is a setback on women and their role in peace building and nation building. When conflict erupted in South Sudan in December 2013, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional body uniting the Eastern African Heads of State and Government, immediately called for its 23rd Extraordinary Summit, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya on December 27, 2013. The purpose of the Summit was to discuss the situation, and as a result, three envoys were appointed to head the

South Sudan peace process. All the three appointed envoys are men. The Special Envoys are assisted by a team of political and technical advisors that are based in the IGAD Secretariat in Addis Ababa. The Secretariat is composed of 24 staff members, 8 of which are women.

Contact Information

Phone:+211950888800

           +211910888800

Email: info@evesouthsudan.org

Address: Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC) Compound – PALICA

Opposite Sacred Heart Sisters Kindergarten

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