Jonglei women demand 35 per cent political representation in new state government

unmiss south sudan jonglei leadership dialogue political representation peace agreement

Women in Jonglei are vying for more political representation in the next state government and in leadership roles in general.

10 Mar 2020

Jonglei women demand 35 per cent political representation in new state government

Mach Samuel Adut/Filip Andersson

Women in Jonglei are determined to get 35 per cent political representation when a new state government is established, following the dissolution of the local governing bodies of the now defunct 32 states, recently replaced by ten states. The female quota is one of the provisions in the revitalised peace agreement signed in September 2018.

To help them achieve their legitimate goal, a 20-member-strong Gender Champion Taskforce is about to be created. The decision to form this watchdog group was taken at a two-day leadership dialogue, organised by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and gathering some 40 state and non-state actors.

Ironically, yet a fact that says something of the current state of affairs: only 15 of those participants were women. They were, on the other hand, both vocal and appreciative of the initiative to have a discussion focused on leadership and representation.

“This is a great forum. We are telling our men: you signed the [peace] agreement, now give us our 35 per cent of representation at all decision-making levels,” said Ms. Adau Deng Atem, one of the attendees.

Looking at the current representation of women in leadership roles in Jonglei goes a long way to understand local women’s demands for greater gender equity.

The former governor and deputy governor were both men, and among ten state ministries only two were headed by women.

All of the state’s 17 county commissioners and the nine chairpersons of specialized commissions were men.

The president of the high court and all of its first-grade judges and attorneys are men.

Ms. Adau Deng Atem is hopeful and expect major changes: five ministerial posts and four female county commissioners are all part of her vision of a more gender-balanced near future.

The Gender Champion Taskforce will be managed by local women. It will not be focused on the 35 per cent proviso alone, but rather advocate for principles of gender equality and female participation in general.

The new entity will receive financial and technical support from the peacekeeping mission’s Gender Affairs Unit.