Women in Juba insist on their role in implementing new peace deal
Activists and members of women’s groups in Juba are insisting on their crucial role to bringing lasting peace to South Sudan, in light of the country’s revitalized peace agreement signed last month in Addis Ababa.
“We need to close the gender gap for women to participate and take on their role as the owners of the agreement,” said Gloria Nyoka, a member of EVE Organization for Women Development.
These calls came following a two-day consultative workshop for women leaders and civil society organizations on the topic of women, peace and security, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and EVE Organization for Women Development.
Honorable Hannah Lona Bona, a Member of Parliament from Amadi in the Western Equatoria region, encouraged women to speak out against perpetrators of violence, as a key element of their participation in the peace process.
“Men and boys in the conflicting parties are our husbands and sons. We as mothers, wives and sisters have a role to tell them enough is enough,” she said.
The consultations catalyzed civil society activists, parliamentarians, students, businesswomen and house wives to take action towards realizing their potential in shaping the future for a peaceful South Sudan.
“Women are expressing their joy and bitterness, because they would like this agreement to be realized. They are responsible to transform this peace into a concept of reality,” explained Theresa Cirisiohiro, an activist for peacebuilding.
In her estimation, women are optimistic that the agreement will put an end to the near-5-year civil war that has disproportionally affected women and children. They are particularly enthusiastic about the 35% quota that has been allocated for women at decision making levels.
These calls coincide with the visit of a joint UN and African Union delegation, that is aiming to address the challenges facing women and girls in South Sudan.
Under-Secretary-General of UN Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, both showed their solidarity with the women and girls bearing the brunt of the country’s ongoing conflict while on ground in South Sudan this week.
“Peace in South Sudan will not be built without women. Do not feel alone. You can count on us to do our best to try and make sure that peace will return,” said Jean-Pierre Lacroix during a meeting with internally displaced women in the northern town of Bentiu.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed the need for women to be front and centre, saying, “Men alone can never make the situation of humanity better. It is only when women are participating in a meaningful way that we can bring about change.”
With the support of the international community at their back, the women will be hoping that the momentum to put these calls into action for the inclusion of women in the country’s peace process, can gain full swing.