Calls for an end to gender inequality and impunity as traditional leaders gather in Wau
Traditional leaders in Western Bahr el-Ghazal have identified more balanced gender roles and an end to a culture of impunity as key factors to achieve harmony within and between their communities.
“As a woman, I wish to strengthen gender equality and bring perpetrators of sexual violence to justice. Men should not try to dominate their wives because of cultural and traditional beliefs. We live in a modern world, where everybody has a right to live and work, whether one is a man or a woman,” said Suzan Mario Rizik, Chief of Jebel Ker Wau municipality and one of only three female representatives present at the two-day gathering.
Ms. Rizik and her peers from the counties of Wau and Jur River attended a much-appreciated forum organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan in collaboration with the Peace and Reconciliation Working Group. Advocating for peaceful co-existence and learning how to reconcile differences were top of the learning agenda as the group of twenty traditional leaders met.
“I have been given specific hands-on skills on how to serve my community without discrimination, fear and favours, as well as techniques on how to reconcile differences, settling disputes and solve problems. I am eager to share this new knowledge with my community,” she said.
James Aguer, Chief in Wad Lelo Payam, also enjoyed the learning opportunity.
“It is crucial for us to have a forum like this one, so that we can exchange experiences and best practices with other chiefs from other parts of the state. This workshop has conveyed an important message of peace and taught us how to make a difference to our communities by preventing and mitigating conflicts,” a pleased Mr. Aguer declared.
The UN peacekeeping mission believes that local chiefs can play a key role as new state governments are settling in across the country. These new governing structures are a result of parties to the revitalized peace agreement signed in September 2018 resolving to reduce the number of South Sudanese states to ten.
“As you all know we are expecting a new government. We think the traditional leaders can be important agents of peace and help establishing leadership in the government and society,” said Justin Atit, a civil affairs officer serving with the UN mission.