September 27, 2013 (NEW YORK) – The first lady of South Sudan has openly appealed to well-wishers in the United States to extend support to women and children in the young nation.
- South Sudan first lady Mary Ayen Mayardit in New York (Photo: Moses Lomoyat)
Speaking during a televised interview at the First Ladies Alliance ceremony held in New York Friday, Mary Ayen Mayardit urged support for Concern for Women and Children (CWC); an organisation she founded.
CWC is an indigenous entity with a mission to mitigate suffering, injustice and poverty by empowering women and supporting children.
In her remarks, Ayen did not shy away from the problems South Sudan faces, after decades of the long civil war it fought with Sudan.
The first lady, for instance, told the gathering that 65% of the women in the young nation are still illiterate, an indication the vast majority of its young people cannot read or write.
“There are issues related to women capacities to achieve economic independence; women are in the rural areas, girls are either denied schooling or taken out of school at 14 years to be married”, said Ayen.
These are the issues we are dealing with, she added.
Currently, South Sudan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, with 2,054 maternal deaths per100,000 live births, statistics show.
The government, according to the first lady, has granted women equal opportunity to women through the 25% affirmative granted to them in the country’s transitional constitution.
“It could be noted that women had always provided the lead in feeding their families either by cultivating or by doing marginal jobs in the towns”, she said.
If women are economically empowered this could impact positively on the poverty level and the morbidity and mortality amongst children and mothers, Ayen added.
The first lady, who also met her US counterpart Michelle Obama, was in New York to attend a meeting organised by the US-based Bush Institute’s First Ladies Initiative.
The initiative, started by former US first lady Laura Bush, engages and supports first ladies from around the world to create viable women networks dedicated to promoting education, good health and economic opportunities for women in society.