UNMISS-funded mobile campaign brings excitement, optimism on Women’s Day
JUBA – In the lead up to today’s International Women’s Day, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) ran a weeklong mobile awareness campaign in Juba, the capital city, with a single aim: To highlight the need for upholding the rights of women and girls as well as empowering them.
To sensitize communities across Juba, the UN Peacekeeping mission used a truck with loudspeakers that traversed major streets with constant stopovers to disseminate messages of peace and gender equality.
Community members in various localities thronged towards the travelling truck, showing interest and enthusiasm in these important issues.
For 64-year-old Laurence Loro Anderia, a resident of Rombur, Luri county, women are the bedrock of communities across the world’s youngest nation and their inclusion in peace processes is vital.
“The voices of women and girls must be heard, especially when it comes to decision-making at all levels. If we are to establish an enduring peace, we cannot leave 50 per cent of society in the shadows,” he stated.
Mr. Anderia also had words of wisdom for young people. “The civil wars in 2013 and 2016 massively impacted youth across the country. Their education was disrupted, and they couldn’t learn any income-generating skills. With a peace deal and a transitional government of national unity in place, things are much better now, and I urge young people to use this relative harmony to hone their capacities,” he averred.
For his part, Martin Filip, a young man of 27, says he believes that men are equally responsible for ensuring women have equal spaces in society. “I support my wife in all that she wants to do. I believe everybody should do so.”
Martin practices what he preaches and took over all his wife’s domestic chores to help mark International Women’s Day. “I know it’s a small thing, but it made her happy,” he acknowledges with a smile.
Another appeal from communities: Giving girls the right to complete their education. “I believe that our government should enact laws that sternly punish any attempt to coerce an underage girl to get married,” stated 19-year-old Naiga Vivian, a stall owner at a Juba market passionately.
“We deserve the chance to compete on an equal footing with our male counterparts and contribute our bit to building a prosperous, peaceful future for our nation,” she adds.
For Grace Ayuak, another local trader, equality is about mutual respect.
“Wherever you look, women have proven themselves in professions that were previously considered to be exclusive to men. Our achievements speak for themselves and there is no room to exclude us from public life anymore.”