Gender forum in Aweil demands empowerment of women for sustainable peace and development

unmiss south sudan aweil women political representation gender-based violence sustainable peace development

Participants at a gender forum in Aweil did not forget to wash their hands.
Photos: Emmanuel Kele/UNMISS

30 Mar 2021

Gender forum in Aweil demands empowerment of women for sustainable peace and development

Emmanuel Kele

“We do urge the government to give opportunities to women to lead the country. Women should take positions at all levels of institutions for the development of South Sudan,” said Charles Kol Buk, representing the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare in Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal.

He was speaking at a forum facilitated and organized by the Gender Unit of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to address the poor representation of women in decision-making positions and the pervasive problem of gender-based violence in the country. and understanding the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women.

“Our Minister [of Gender] is a lady, and the Director General of the Ministry is a female. We have a vice president at the national level who is a woman. Women are capable, they can lead the country” emphasized Charles Kol Buk.

During discussions the approximately 35 participants called for the fulfillment of the 35 per cent political representation of women at all levels, as stipulated in the revitalized peace agreement signed in 2018.

“Our society should empower women. A woman should be employed at the highest level of decision-making so that she can give hope to her younger sisters. This will reinforce their knowledge about their rights,” said Lieutenant Colonel Alberto Buola, representing the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces.

Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal is a conservative state where cultural norms are strictly adhered to. Girls are kept at home for marriages. They are often denied not only high leadership positions but also education and employment in general.

“For us women it is time to start working and stop depending on our men. Let us work together and develop our country,” said Amira Chan, a member of the Women’s General Association.

That sentiment was soon echoed by another participant.

“This is our nation. We need to develop it. We do hope that one day we shall be an equal society, with both men and women working together for the good of this country,” said Rebecca Akok Deng, since 15 years deputy assistant to an army logistics officer of the army.  

The dialogue recommended career development for women, job training, and respect for rule of law.

“Women should be involved in matters of peace and security. Gender should be considered whenever someone is being recruitment,” urged Irene Kumwenda, a gender focal person serving with the UN peacekeeping mission.