Women from greater Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal and Warrap are calling for their rights to be heard and duly respected, and for full participation in the peacebuilding process in their country.
“Women do have the same rights as men,” said Angelina Regina, who hails from Aweil. “We are responsible in our houses as well as in our society.”
Ms. Regina voiced her opinion at a one-day forum organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and attended by more than 35 women from Warrap, Kuajok, and greater Aweil.
“The South Sudanese woman of today are educated and can lead the country,” said fellow participant Monica Mayuen, a member of Aweil’s legislative assembly.
Emelia Ameldeo travelled all the way from Gogrial to Aweil with a message to South Sudan’s male population.
“We call on our brothers and our husbands to stop what they are doing because if we start fighting now we cannot build or develop our country,” she pondered.
Tereza Aker Malual, mayor of Aweil town, emphasized the role and responsibilities of women to put their country on the right track, challenging them to take on the peacebuilding mandate given to them in the revitalized peace agreement.
“We have huge challenges here, caused by the crisis in the country, but with the help of our ladies, women and our mothers we can overcome them,” she said, oozing confidence.
The forum was the last of a series of activities organized to build the capacity of women to develop concrete action plans, and to produce a local framework of best practices for women involved in peacebuilding and reconciliation.
To achieve the goal of equal participation, Valerie Kunzler, a Civil Affairs Officers serving with the UN peacekeeping mission, pointed out of that the currently frequent lack of accountability for sexual and other kinds of gender-based violence cannot be allowed to prevail.
“Develop mechanisms to report all incidents of sexual gender-based violence,” she urged the attentive crowd of women sitting before her.
And develop they did. Amongst the action items elaborated and agreed on are an awareness raising campaigns for peace, lobbying government officials to enact laws that counteract harmful cultural practices, and creating gender and youth-inclusive committees to mitigate communal conflicts.