6 May 2013 - It was vital for South Sudanese women to assist in drawing up the country’s constitution and translating it into law, the Presidential Advisor on Legal Affairs said in Juba today.
Speaking at the opening of a women’s national conference on constitutional development, Tellar Ring Deng said the country would still be tasked with “translating the spirit of the constitution into acts of law by parliament” after the constitution was made public.
“It is the role of both men and women of South Sudan to identify gaps in current laws that have not addressed your problems,” said Mr. Deng, who represented President Salva Kiir at the conference.
Women representatives from all 10 states of South Sudan are attending the week-long conference, which will lay down recommendations for the constitution.
The activity was organized by the South Sudan Women General Association (SSWGA) and the National Democratic Institute, with support from UNMISS.
The conference was a vital opportunity for the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) to take serious note of concerns raised by organizations promoting the role and rights of women, said Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (DSRSG) Raisedon Zenenga.
“President Salva Kiir affirmed that every person, regardless of ethnicity, gender, education, status or wealth, has the right to voice opinions on the evolving text (and that) the constitution will become stronger through participation,” said Mr. Zenenga.
He added that the current generation of South Sudanese had a unique opportunity as well as an onerous responsibility to partake in a historical process.
“Writing a constitution is a key aspect in nation building,” the DSRSG said. “A nation comes together through shared values and aspirations. It is in the constitution that these values and aspirations are defined.”
UNMISS, aware of challenges the government and other organizations would face in “trying to reach everyone in South Sudan” during constitution consultations, had a responsibility and mandate to assist, Mr. Zenenga said.
“We are also expected to support the participation of women in political and decision making,” he said. “UNMISS will provide political, technical and logistical support.”
The SSWGA chairperson, Sarah James, said the conference, under the theme, “Our Nation, our constitution: Women’s participation in constitution development is key”, would harmonize different constitution recommendations from all states.