July 18 2014 (WAU) – South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has called for girls to have equal opportunity to education in the country.
- Students from Kiir Senior Secondary School march through the street during celebrations marking the third anniversary of South Sudan’s independence from the north in the Western Bahr el Ghazal capital Wau on 9 July 2014 (ST)
Kiir who made his public appeal on Wednesday during a visit to Western Bahr el Ghazal capital Wau, warning parents not to force their daughters into early marriage.
“When we talk about education, we must have to offer similar rights to our children without isolating our young daughters from equal access to education,” Kiir said.
The president said young girls would struggle to compete in the modern world
if parents prevented them from accessing education, calling on parents to give all their children the same opportunities.
“There is no child who is not in our value; they are all our children of which none of them should be left out from education,” he said, adding an educated girl could continue to support her family and help alleviate poverty.
Kiir said many powerful countries were led by women and there was no reason why South Sudanese women couldn’t also be future leaders.
He also warned that daughters should not be regarded as a commodity.
On 14 June while inaugurating Wau county’s new headquarters in Bagari, Kiir pledged the construction of new school and hospital in the area.
He also announced the construction of a secondary boarding school for girls and
hospital in the in Nyinakok Jur River area.
According to government statistics, close to half of South Sudanese girls between 15 and 19 are married, with some marrying as young as age 12.
Many families in South Sudan view child marriage as a means of accessing wealth through the wealth through the traditional payment of dowries, often in the form of cattle, money and other gifts.
In its 2014 World Report, Human Rights Watch said child marriage in South Sudan continues to exacerbate the country’s high levels of poverty, pronounced gender gaps in education and soaring rates of maternal mortality, which are among the highest in the world.