UNMISS quick impact prison renovation project creates jobs for women in Wau

unmiss south sudan wau quick impact project prison women employment jobs

Almost 50 women in Wau are currently working on an UNMISS-funded project to expand and renovate the town's prison. Photos: Alahayi Nemaya/UNMISS

3 Apr 2021

UNMISS quick impact prison renovation project creates jobs for women in Wau

Alahayi Nemaya

When the United Nations Mission in South Sudan is financing the expansion and renovation of the juvenile section of Wau Central Prison, many local women, employed by implementing partner Hold the Child Organization, are getting a chance to make a living on their own.

‘’I am grateful for this opportunity to work. It has changed my life, because now I can afford to feed myself and take good care of my baby,’’ says Amani Mayen, who were forced to drop out school when her husband abandoned her.

Once her baby stops breastfeeding, Amani hopes that she will be able to use the money she is currently earning to resume her studies.

Several of her female construction working peers are single mothers, while others are students working extra to pay for their education.

Christina Gabriel struggles with both challenges: as a widow following her husband’s death during the 2016 civil war, she is a single mother, and raising five children means paying significant school fees.

“Before getting the chance here at the construction site I tried all kinds of businesses to generate an income, but they all failed,‘’ says the assistant mason.

Uchalla Omar, chief operation officer at Modern Vision Constructing Company, subcontracted by the Hold the Child Organization, says that hiring a total of 49 women for the project was an easy decision.

‘’The issues of gender balance and equal opportunities are priorities of my company, and all these women have the skills needed. In fact, they are more hardworking than most men,” says Mr. Omar, adding that women are also less absent from work and take fewer cigarette and tea breaks.

Working on the expansion and renovation of the female wings of the Wau Central Prison, a project made necessary by significantly overcrowded conditions, is proving to be a source of inspiration to some of the contracted women.

‘’I want to learn how to build houses. In the future, I’d like to start my own constructing company to employ girls who have dropped out of schools and are unemployed,’’ says 23-year-old student Tina George, who works as a porter and helper.

The UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan funds carefully selected Quick Impact Projects across the country. These are small-scale, relatively inexpensive initiatives perceived to have the potential to make a significant and lasting impact on the host communities.