UNMISS-supported forum for women in Eastern Equatoria prioritizes adult literacy at the grassroots
“Our objective in coming together today is to ensure women’s leaders are fully engaged to support this forum with actionable ideas to empower women and ensure they have every opportunity they need to develop themselves,” said Jennifer Nabongorika, Minister of Gender, Eastern Equatoria State.
Minister Nabongorika was speaking at the second forum discussing crucial aspects of women’s rights and representations in the state.
Following considered discussions by all participants, adult literacy received a unanimous thumbs up as a solution to the high rate of school dropouts among young girls and boys, who then go on to provide underage labour in the local markets.
“In the first such meeting which took place a month ago, we came up with certain resolutions. Chief among them was that women leaders need to find out why so many minors are leaving their education midway,” explained Minister Nabongorika. “This is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately if we are to build a future of peace and prosperity.”
“If we are to be strong and powerful women, we must enroll in accelerated learning programmes; education is key,” said Flora Sebit, a women’s representative from the Civil Society Network in Torit.
Testimonies from successful women leaders holding positions of note at the state level highlighted the importance of education. “I was forced into an early marriage by my parents a few years ago, but I collected myself and refocused on education. Today, I have held more than one leadership post,” revealed Paska Hifita, Head, State commissioner for Revenue’s Office.
For her part, Mikelina Emilio, Gender Affairs Officer, UNMISS, said that facilitating such discussions are part of the mission’s mandate to convene and connect women across the country as they lobby for equal representation in all levels of decision-making. “This monthly meeting symbolizes our commitment to involving women leaders and women at the grassroots level, narrowing the gap between both, so that women in Eastern Equatoria start building a strong support structure for themselves,” averred Ms. Emilio.
The meeting saw participation from 42 women who hold political positions, are part of the civil service, members of civil society groups, organized forces, female chiefs and youth leaders who continued their understanding of the Revitalized Peace Agreement, the importance of gender equality and finding ways to work together with men on issues that impact women directly.