Home | News    Thursday 28 May 2009

S. Sudan women hold leadership conference

By Isaac Vuni

May 27, 2009 (JUBA) – The second Women’s Association Conference in South Sudan was inaugurated today at Juba Bridge Hotel under the theme “better organized, more effective.”

JPEG - 59 kb
A women’s conference in Juba on May 27, 2009

The women representatives from ten states of south Sudan are scheduled to elect their new chairperson after passing the new constitution tomorrow.

The region’s “first lady,” Mary Mayardit, appreciated women coming together to take leadership, especially in the private sector as the Government of Southern Sudan could not afford to offer money to every southern Sudanese.

She added in her remarks at the event that her door is open to any women for advice and consultation that will enhance development of southern Sudan.

Other speakers at the event focused on mobilization for the election scheduled for February 2010. In her opening remarks, Minister of Gender, Social Welfare and Religious Affairs H.E. Mary Kiden Kimbo said they had started mobilizing women since November last year in order to become more effective on all levels, from boma, payam and county to state and national levels.

Minister Kiden noted the high number of women who die during childbirth and appealed to international actors to plan for a longer program in southern Sudan that will not put women in difficulties as some NGOs have run away and left women to suffer at the mercy of God.

She said the lack of boarding schools is hindering female education and that there is an urgent need to build at least one female boarding school per state as women constitute 65% of Sudan’s population. The gender imbalance is said to be biggest in the south, where insurgents emerged in control through 22 years of civil war.

Kiden cited the role of women in the civil war, pointing Captain Noume Arona who lost her life in Kapueta as a veteran fighter.

Likewise, Minister of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development, Mrs. Awut Deng Acuil, reminded women to remember their fallen and living martyrs for achieving sovereignty but cautioned that they must first unit. She remarked that southerners are capable of governing themselves as they did for the last 22 years of struggle and are still capable even after the peace agreement, and she urges women to take serious political decision whether to be independent or remain under the same united Sudan.

Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. James Wani Igga, who spoke on behalf of President Salva Kiir Mayardit, today urged women to know themselves and evaluate how politically they would be empowered to unite before the coming general election scheduled for February 2010 and the referendum in 2011.

He elucidated that there are some cheap men of southern Sudan dividing southerners because of greediness and appealed to marginalized women to unite and vote out those confusing men who nourishes only the politics of survival.

He asserted to them that what happened in Yei — where some members of SPLM/A almost fought each other for official positions — should not repeat itself again.

Referring to the recently released population census result, the speaker accused that those who conducted Sudan’s fifth population and Housing census might have done it under influence of beer delivering statistically wrong data that indicate women number less then men.

“If only one southern chief could marry more than fifty wives, how could women be less than men? Why should the southern population be restricted to only 8.26 million — are the southerners not capable of producing?” posed the Speaker.

He said women must up rise for their rights and be empowered economically by giving them loans to start businesses while discouraging culture that discriminates them from inheriting land and properties.

Wani further reminded women that it was SPLM who brought the minimum 25% representation to women as a compulsory right at all levels of governments institutions besides being allowed also to compete with men in the remaining posts. Though other political parties have also adopted SPLM’s policy of affirmative action for women, he said, if one’s party fails to give one rights, it is better to defect to SPLM, pleaded the speaker.

The Speaker disclosed that registration will start on June 2, 2009 and nominations will start in September while voting kicks off from February 6, 2010.

Meanwhile, GOSS Minister of Internal Affairs Paul Mayom emphasized that all citizens of southern Sudan are stakeholders especially women who know their men better than police officers when it comes to identifications of criminals.

Rebecca De Mabior, widow of the founder of the SPLM/A, explained that they had left Bor on May 16, 1983 and never wanted to get out of Sudan but she was compelled to accept going to Itang for security reasons of her husband. While at Itang, there were 139 female fighters mostly from Bor, though they were disorganized.

On August 19, 1985, the wife of late Dr. Garang called for a formal meeting to elect their leader who should be ready to do carry out the job of serving all southern Sudanese women irrespective of their ethnicity and creeds; Fatima Nyawang was the first women leader elected from Itang camp and she was advised to be ready for any challenges including insults.

Today she is being used by the SPLM/A women’s association as a role model. “But you should know that to be a wife of a guerrilla leader is very difficult. Zanab Mangok felt and became disabled because she went to support her husband in front line,” said De Mabior.