Many a peer of Catherine Lotto, representing the Young Women Christian Association, seemed to embody that sentiment on this day at the University of Juba.
The women, from a variety of civil society organizations dealing with issues of gender-based violence and peacebuilding, have gathered, invited by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, to compile action points related to the country’s revitalized peace agreement.
Catherine Lotto is given hope by the provision in that agreement that stipulates that women shall be given a 35 per cent share of the seats in all decision-making bodies. But how can those words on a piece of paper turn into reality?
“Criteria must be used when we select female leaders, to make sure that they represent women and their concerns effectively and share information with their communities. This will encourage women to work for lasting peace. If you lift one woman, you lift all,” Ms. Lotto concluded.
The workshop also served to shed more light on what will be expected of women when it comes to implementing other important provisions of the peace deal, like the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing and the independent hybrid court.
“We need to reconcile for unity and forget of the past. If we don’t do this as women we shall continue to suffer, and we shall not enjoy freedom in our lives,” said Mary Federiko Loro, an organization for the visually impaired.
Betty Poni Cosmas, on the other hand was delighted to find out about another part of the peace agreement: the subsidized credit and development funds to be offered to women-owned enterprises.
“This will help build women’s capacity at the grassroot level to know and support the peace process, and also to develop them and improve their lives through income-generating activities.”