Women discuss their role in South Sudan peace process
It was vital for women in South Sudan not to be satisfied only with having their rights enshrined in the country’s peace agreement, but rather to work towards its implementation, the top UNMISS official said in Juba today.
“The spirit of the peace agreement for promoting women’s rights and participation is designed to ensure not only that…women have a place in implementing the agreement but also…that women all over the country feel the benefits of peace on a daily basis,” said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG), Ellen Loej.
The UNMISS Chief was speaking during the opening of a two-day National Women Peace Dialogue organized by South Sudan Women Peace Network in partnership with the African Union (AU), Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, UN Women and UN Development Programme.
Priscilla Joseph Kuch, chairperson of the South Sudan Women Peace Network, said the dialogue would help develop an implementation plan that would look into the roles of women in the peace process, produce a position paper which would address women issues as well as put in place a monitoring mechanism.
Ms. Loej stressed that women’s participation should not be limited to women having seats at negotiation tables in the transitional government, but must involve ensuring that women at all levels of society play key roles in rebuilding the fabric of South Sudanese society.
She noted that South Sudanese women had suffered deplorable and often systematic violence, either as a consequence of the ongoing political conflict, or as part of intercommunal or interethnic disputes.
“Peace will never be sustainable in South Sudan, nor in any other country in the world, unless the voices of women are heard…unless their concerns and special needs are taken into consideration when framing new fabrics of society, from security sector reform, rule of law to reconciliation and nation building at the community level, as well and police reform,” she said.
She urged men to also fight for the rights of women and girls.
South Sudan’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Michael Makuei Lueth, said women had always played a significant role since the country’s liberation struggle for independence.
Noting that women’s empowerment was not an event but required hard work, Mr. Makuei said women needed to unite in order to achieve the political space they wanted.
The minister decried low literacy rate among women and girls in the country and urged mothers to liberate their daughters by empowering them to finish their education.
“We want South Sudan (to be a country) of peace and peaceful co-existence,” he said.
Sara Rwambali, Special Representative of the AU Chairperson in South Sudan, said for hundreds of years, women had been victims of sexual violence both in times of peace and during conflict.
“Now the time has come … that the world will no longer tolerate the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war,” said Brigadier General Rwambili.
She added that the AU was ready to empower the South Sudanese women to realize their rights and reiterated that women’s voice should sound not only in the peacemaking process but transcend the post-transitional period.