UNPOL in Kuajok sensitizes 300 students on issues impacting their education
KUAJOK - "Boys always blame girls for failing to finish our education saying we lack the desire to do so. However, this is not the case. We want to go to school, become decision-makers and possibly lead our country some day. Yet, consider the difficulties we face in our families. We are considered domestic helpers and not allowed to attend school. Occasionally, we are forced to marry when we are still underage, and after giving birth, we are compelled to remain at home to care of children and families. Boys need to learn how to respect us," Rose Ajok, a student in Kuajok passionately states.
Rose was speaking at an awareness-raising session facilitated by United Nations Police (UNPOL) officers serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for some 300 students at Kuajok National Secondary School.
Women and girls in South Sudan face numerous obstacles in completing their education, including poverty, early marriages and pregnancy, gender inequity, and gender-based violence.
The main aim of this day-long session facilitated by UNPOL with support from the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Gender and Child Protection arms : To encourage young girls to continue their education and assist students in overcoming these difficulties.
For her part, Halima Miraji Kigera, Police Adviser, urged girls not to let marriage and motherhood prevent them from pursuing their education, "There is no age limit to education. You can get married, have children and still return to school if you have a supportive family structure. I hope all the boys here, who are fast growing up into young men, are also listening to me and will extend their support to their sisters, their mothers and eventually to their wives and daughters,” she averred.
Another specific to girls and women that came to the fore during discussions was the lack of access to prooer menstrual hygiene and care, which can frequently cause psychological issues.
"When I had my period at school, I was teased by the boys and had to return home. It was embarrassing and humiliating. It is a natural part of our experience as girls and we should not be penalized for it,” said another student Rebecca Ngor.
The UNMISS team distributed feminine hygiene items to the school administration to guarantee that girls are treated with dignity.
Additionally, the sensitization campaign discussed gender norms, child safety, and reporting and resolving sexual-gender-based violence. "These are important issues for all of us so that we can live together in harmony and create a better future for South Sudan in partnership with girls and women. I am glad that UNMISS came to our school and spoke to all of us,” said Joseph Maluk, a Grade 12 student at the end of the day.