PETER RING ARIIK
As she was receiving her award as the winner of the UNMISS essay writing competition in Lakes region, 16-year-old Khana Kockedhie Magel said that women can bring lasting peace in South Sudan – if they are given the chance to do so.
Khana, who attends Loreta Girls’ Secondary School in Rumbek, is convinced that women in decision-making positions can ensure that society’s concerns and interests are taken into account when choices influencing peace and security are made. If women are heard, South Sudan will achieve durable peace, she says.
“Women play an important role in bringing up the future generation. If they get the chance, they can provide permanent solutions to the conflict in South Sudan and assure the young that peace will come. Eventually it [peace] will result in economic growth and a better South Sudan for all of us, and for generations to come,” Khana said.
At the award ceremony, the Minister of Education in Western Lakes, Mr. Dut Makoi Kuok, applauded the mission for offering secondary students this rare opportunity to express their brilliant ideas on issues of peace and security in the country, by means of its national essay writing competition on the topic “How can women contribute to durable peace in South Sudan”.
He acknowledged the vital and proactive role women can play in bringing and maintaining lasting tranquility in the society by describing women as “the builders of the nation”.
“Women in my understanding are the builders of society. They will always think about and do what is right for their children, and therefore for their society,” Makoi said.
The Head of the UN Mission’s Field Office in Rumbek, Mr. Kwame Dwamena Aboagye, encouraged students to study hard in order to become capable leaders.
“I urge you [students] seated here to study well. It is only through education that durable peace can be realized in South Sudan, and for women to make a difference they need to be given a proper education,” he said.
Loreto Girls’ Secondary School’s Khana Kockedhie and Ating Kaman Makoi scooped the first and third prizes of the regional essay competition. Cholhok Paulo Ater from Savanna High earned the second prize in a contest characterized by the large number of high-quality essays submitted.
On 9 May, at a ceremony in the capital Juba, a national winner will be duly and triumphantly selected and awarded. Much robust rejoicing is to be expected.
Some of Khana’s key points on how women can contribute to durable peace:
Women must be listened to and taken seriously, not least in peace negotiations.
Women can teach their children good manners, to be respectful and forgiving. They need to be good role models by leading by example. Khana writes: “If a mother fights with a neighbouring woman her child on the following day will fight with the neighbour’s child, hence leading to disputes and hatred.”
By giving women a chance to marry partners from other ethnic groups closer bonds between different communities will be created.
By being trusted from an early age. Khana writes: “I hope that fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say: yes, women can”.
By creating women’s groups at the local level to find common ground and make their voices stronger and taken to higher levels.
Begin with peace at home and within themselves. As Khana ponders: “If you find peace within yourself you become the kind of person who can live in peace with others.”