Unity State concludes 16 Days of Activism

11 Dec 2012

Unity State concludes 16 Days of Activism

7 December 2012 - Girls in Unity State were increasingly opposed to early and forced marriage, an informal student survey in the state capital Bentiu revealed today.

Although the two practices were major gender-related human rights violations in the state, several girls said they were willing to tell their parents they would complete their education before marriage.

Speaking at an event to mark the conclusion of "16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence against Women" at Bentiu B School, Nyajiima John Dak said she was too young to marry and wanted to study first.

"If anyone approaches my parents, I will tell them (to tell him to) wait till I graduate and then I can marry him," said Ms. Dak, who is in Class Six.

Nena William, a Class Four pupil, said she would still go back to school even if she was forced into marriage and became pregnant.

"My message to all girls is ... If we are educated, we'll know our rights and we can be meaningful members of our families," said Nyawede, a pupil in Bentiu B School's Class Three.

The principal of Bentiu B School, Fatuma Suleiman, encouraged pupils to continue their education, adding that she had met girls' fathers and explained that educated girls would become more responsible members of the family.

"This year, there (was) no drop out from the school because of the awareness programmes by teachers, the UN and the Ministry of Gender," Ms. Suleiman said. "All girls need to be educated. Otherwise they won't be able to exercise their legitimate rights."

More than 250 pupils from Lich and Bentiu B schools attended the quiz and fun event organized by the state Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare and UNMISS Gender unit. It was the last in a series of events over 16 days that started on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Other events included training on women's rights for 55 women in Yida Refugee Camp, organized by UNMISS Human Rights Unit and the UN Refugee Agency.

UNMISS staff members from Poland and Rwanda also shared experiences with gender-based violence in their countries, in a domestic and conflict setting, respectively.

On 5 December, UNMISS protection advisors provided a two-day training for 45 UN Monogolian Battalion officers on conflict-related sexual violence.