Moustapha Soumaré, deputy head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, has praised the resilience, determination and progress demonstrated and made by South Sudanese women in making their concerns count in the ongoing peace process.
“From the outcomes [of the High-Level Revitalization Forum discussing a way forward towards durable peace in South Sudan] I have witnessed so far, I can say that women’s organizations are effectively seizing the opportunity to promote common positions and interests,” Mr. Soumaré told the attendees at the South Sudan Open Days Dialogue on Women, Peace and Security.
The annual event, the sixth of its kind, is held at Juba Grand Hotel on 13-15 March. It gathers women leaders from both national and sub-national levels, including members of parliament and representatives from civil society organizations, the organized forces and the academic world.
Together, participants deliberate on how to best achieve the key objectives of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which include increasing women’s participation in government, policy making processes, peace negotiation processes and efforts to protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence.
Mr. Soumaré said great progress has been made, citing the inclusion of prohibitions of sexual violence in conflict, protection of civilians, and support for the reunification of women and children in the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, signed in December last year, as concrete examples.
More female influence in action followed at the second phase of the High-Level Revitalization Forum in Addis Ababa last February. Amongst other successful interventions, the 21 participating women secured the renewal of the affirmative action that requires 35 per cent of those appointed to the next Transitional Government of National Unity to be women.
Mr. Soumaré also praised women’s participation in the ongoing National Dialogue and its sub-national level consultations, describing their voices in these discussions as “bold”.
“The courage of solidarity that women in South Sudan have so far demonstrated is commendable and I encourage you to continue such engagements. I reassure you that we will continue to accompany you in your endeavours,” the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General stated, adding that a “united, strong nation-state” will be “a pure utopia” as long as the security of women and girls has not been guaranteed.
The top UN official urged both male and female persons in positions of influence to lead by example.
“As leaders, your country counts on you. The youth respect you and expect your leadership. You are their heroes and their role models, and your actions and words will inspire the younger generation to follow the path that you have painstakingly paved.”
The South Sudan Open Days Dialogue on Women, Peace and Security is convened by the UN Mission, the UN Development Programme and UN Women.
The event culminates on 15 March with the presentation of recommendations for actions, and the monitoring and follow-up of their implementation, to the head of UNMISS, David Shearer. Mr. Shearer will also lead a Questions & Answers session about the UN’s support to the role of women in the peace process.