2 “Our ability to make decisions or hold leadership positions, whether in our government or local institutions or even among our communities, pales in comparison to men,” she added.
3 Achol’s words drew applause and howls from his peers at a two-day roundtable jointly organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Gender of the BMI Women’s Desk.
4 “When South Sudanese women got 35 percent representation under the Revitalized Peace Agreement, we were extremely optimistic,” Achol continued. However, the reality we are experiencing belies that hope. Women have been assigned positions that are well below average and do not correspond to their high qualifications. In addition, we have fallen far short of the promised number of posts – there are only two female ministers and one adviser among 15 male counterparts,” she revealed.
5 With only 12 months left in the transition period, there is a pressing need to inject new momentum into the peace process in South Sudan, including the drafting of the constitution and preparations for eventual elections.
6 The full and equal participation of women in such key deliberations and decisions is now more necessary than ever.
7 According to the participants, there are two areas that could significantly empower women: stopping forced or underage marriages and allowing women to own property.
8 Cabinet Affairs Minister David Nyang agreed with this recommendation.
9 “On behalf of the state government, I pledge to lead all efforts to safeguard women’s rights, especially as it relates to property and land ownership, as well as leases. If women are economically independent, they will be more motivated to participate fully in the life of our nation,” said Minister Nyang.
10 “When the conflict broke out in South Sudan in 2013, women and girls were severely affected. Now, with a peace agreement and a transitional government of national unity, it behooves us to do all we can to support women and girls so that our country can move towards inclusive peace,” she added.
11 The forum closed with participants proposing recommended solutions that would enable women to realize their potential as peacemakers, social transformers, and leaders. An important aspect: Ensure specific legal spaces for women to access justice mechanisms.
12 In conclusion, Leda Limann, UNMISS Field Office Chief in Malakal, welcomed the candid feedback from these discussions. “For us, as a UN peacekeeping mission, it is very important to get a sense of the situation on the ground from all of you. The free and frank discussions today have been enlightening; We will do everything in our power and mandate to ensure that the equal rights and representation of women and girls is given the priority it deserves,” she stated.