Youth and women in Northern Bahr El Ghazal call for space to exercise political rights

unmiss women  youth northern bahr el ghazal political participation peace process revitalized peace agreement south sudan united nations un peacekeeping peacekeepers

At an UNMISS forum, women and young people in Northern Bahr El Ghazal, South Sudan, have asked to be fully and meaningfully included in political and peace processes. Photo by Emmanuel Kele/UNMISS

29 Nov 2022

Youth and women in Northern Bahr El Ghazal call for space to exercise political rights

Emmanuel Kele

NORTHERN BAHR EL GHAZAL – “Young people must be part of decision-making, specially when it comes to peace processes,” says Tito Awen Bol, Chair of the Youth Union in Northern Bahr El Ghazal.

Mr. Bol was speaking at a two-day consultative forum organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Some 87 participants drawn from faith-based groups, politicians, members of parliament, county commissioners, civil society and women’s representatives were equipped with skills and strategies to further good governance.

Female participants, especially, were vocal about the need for their full and equal representation in politics, governance, and peacemaking.

“The Revitalized Peace Agreement provided for 35 per cent representation for women at all levels of leadership,” stated Angelina Thiep Malek, a women’s representative.

“Unfortunately, this stipulation hasn’t been actioned fully. Now that there has been an agreement on a Roadmap by all signatories, we are requesting that this important stipulation be fully implemented to make peace processes more durable,” she added.

“It is a fact that peace deals that include the voices of women fully are more successful,” she explained.

“For women to own their rightful space in the life of this nation, it’s imperative that they be empowered and educated. We have suffered immensely during conflict, and it is time we receive the support we richly deserve to achieve our full potential,” concluded Ms. Malek.

Free and frank discussions at the forum among those attending led to key priorities being identified to progress peace and usher in development as well as stabilization.

Recommendations included improvement in food production systems, improved health services, provision of quality education at both school and university levels, as well as delivery of clean water and waste management systems across the state.

Safety and security, livelihood opportunities and upholding the rule of law were also prime considerations.

“Repeated conflict has led to a situation where South Sudanese institutions haven’t been able to strengthen themselves but as the country’s partner for peace, UNMISS is doing its best to build capacities across the board and enable all citizens to come together under a single national identity. Such fora are essential for community members to come together and deliberate on their individual roles in building a brighter future,” averred Ataklti Hailu, Head of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Northern Bahr El Ghazal.

For William Kolong, the Regional Peace Coordinator, the forum is timely.

“This is not about divisions but about uniting to do what’s best for the people of our state. It’s about taking ownership of peace processes collectively,” said Mr. Kolong simply yet eloquently.