June 15, 2012 (WAU) - The Governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal State on Friday pledged to empower women in his administration.
Governor Rizik Zachariah Hassan made the remarks at a gathering that brought together women from different counties and payams [districts] to discuss issues affecting women in all walks of life with a view to establishing mechanisms for greater empowerment and leadership.
In the opening statement read on his behalf by the state minister of finance, trade and industry, Moris Yel Akol, Hassan thanked the organisers and described the gathering as timely and relevant, noting that it has created a platform for unity, solidarity, cohesion, dialogue and networking.
Speaking on behalf of a women’s group, Mary Samuel, commended president Salva Kiir for the directives being followed by Hassan and what she described as his "continued commitment" to promoting women’s empowerment, especially in education.
She also explained that the objective of a recent one-day workshop was to foster an alliance amongst women in leadership positions in the state, as well those at the national government and counties down to payams [district] and boma [village] levels.
He observed that many rural, poor women continue to lack basic opportunities in terms of decision-making and control over resources, which makes it difficult to improve their livelihoods.
He noted that women make up 60 percent of South Sudan’s agricultural workforce and as such play a key role in the country’s drive towards self-sufficiency and food security.
The “back to the land” self-sufficiency initiative comes from Kiir who has stated that “we eat what we grow and grow what we eat.”
Hassan noted that for may rural women it is not possible to own land, hampering their productivity.
South Sudan’s ability to feed its people is particularly pertinent at these times of austerity. After the closure of the pipeline which exported the oil which made up 98 percent of South Sudan’s revenues in January 2012, South Sudan has been under increasing economic pressure.
“The government has made great strides in improving and protecting the rights of women and children as well as improve equity and equality in line with the international conventions and protocols by eliminating all forms of discrimination against women. This is a big achievement in less than a year of being an independent state and we will not stop there. We will continue to do more to empower women,” the governor explained.
According to a report published in April less than five percent of girls in South Sudan complete primary education.