Following workshop, communities in Eastern Equatoria agree on tackling harmful cultural practices

unmiss south sudan eastern equatoria state women's rights conflict resolution harmful cultural practices

It's never too early to start learning. Some women at a workshop in Eastern Equatoria State brought their little ones along. Photos: Moses Yakudu/UNMISS

27 Aug 2021

Following workshop, communities in Eastern Equatoria agree on tackling harmful cultural practices

Moses Yakudu/Filip Andersson

For some of the 40 participating chiefs and women, the discussions at the forum in Eastern Equatoria State proved to be real eyeopeners.

“The Madi and Acholi have lived together and intermarried and still share some of the cultural practices that can be harmful for women. We will gradually change the negative thinking of women our communities,” pledged Margarete Oliver, a chief from Moli in Pageri Payam (an administrative division), adding that the area is also home to the Lulubo and Lokoya.

Grace Keje Habib, leader of a women’s group in Nimule, reached new conclusions based on knowledge gained at the workshop, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

“We need to talk to our husbands because there are many things that we will need to discuss and negotiate,” she said. “For example, we did not know that women could also be in parliament or take part in signing peace agreements.”

The gathering aimed to build the capacity of women leaders and chiefs in conflict management and reconciliation, and on how to best support peaceful practices at the local level.  

“The workshop provided the common platform needed to discuss traditional practices that hinder the rights of women,” said Ringo Filbert Okumu, a chief in Magwi County.

During the three-day event, prevailing norms related to ownership of land, marriage customs and the appointment of citizens to community leadership positions were thoroughly discussed.

“This opportunity to exchange experiences and be trained on women’s rights and conflict resolution was requested by the communities at a mobilization forum we organized some time ago,” explained Lucie Dominique Duchateau, a Civil Affairs Officer serving with the peacekeeping mission.

By the end of the workshop, the participating women had committed to impart the knowledge gained to other women through community mobilization and radio campaigns.