Capacity building key to overcoming challenges in women’s political participation

Peace South Sudan UNMISS UN peacekeeping peacekeepers elections constitution women participation inclusivity training

In Eastern Equatoria, UNMISS hosts a three-day forum to galvanize women’s full and equal participation in ongoing peace processes as South Sudan races against the clock towards its first post-independence elections. Photo by Sharon Gallo Carpentieri/UNMISS

14 Dec 2023

Capacity building key to overcoming challenges in women’s political participation

Sharon Gallo Carpentieri

EASTERN EQUATORIA – Traditionally, across South Sudan, women and girls have been disproportionately affected by conflict. Add to this, cultural norms, such as early or forced marriages, and there is a significant gap in attaining equal rights for women.

As this young nation approaches its first post-independence elections, the need for more women in politics and governance is clear.

To enable women to have a full say in decisions that impact them directly, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), through its Gender Advisory Unit, and in partnership with Eastern Equatoria’s state Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, hosted a three-day workshop on the country’s permanent constitution-making and electoral processes with a special focus on increasing participation by women in these key tasks.

Some 57 participants, including 42 women holding leadership positions within the government, civil society organizations, youth representations, and faith-based groups, attended this interactive training and strategized on how to ensure that gender provisions contained within the 2018 peace deal are fully adhered to as South Sudan races against time to complete its long-delayed democratic transition.

Angua Florence, a 31-year-old financial and administrative officer at Christion Vision Organization, attended the workshop with her 4-month-old daughter.

“Bringing my child demonstrates that being a mother does not mean giving up on your career. Every morning, I wake up early to care for my daughter before heading to the office. But whenever I can bring her with me, I do so,” she said with a smile.

Additionally, Angua emphasized the importance of these workshops and their vital role in equipping participants with fresh insights into relevant topics that empower them.

“Yesterday, for instance, we learned about the process of enrolling in a political party. Many of us were unaware of this aspect, but thanks to the workshop, we now know how to go about this," she added.

At the end of the three-day forum, participants formulated 26 recommendations to be presented during national consultations, including expanding similar awareness to rural communities, and urging partners to ensure women's rights are incorporated into the South Sudan’s permanent constitution.

For his part, Guy Griffin, Head of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Torit, reiterated UNMISS’ continued commitment to upholding women’s rights.

“UNMISS is dedicated to facilitating discussions like these, where communities can propose recommendations for meaningful, equal, and inclusive participation in the decision-making of this country," he said.