Greater Bahr el Ghazal women push for representation from the grassroots

Concerned about the pace of their inclusion in government and decision-making positions, women in the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region are positioning themselves to push for more representation at both national and regional levels.

”We are now undergoing training on the revitalized peace agreement concerning 35% of women’s representation in decision-making [positions],” said Tereza Pascal Madut, Secretary General of Wau Women’s Association.

Tereza is worried about the fact that barely a month to the formation of a transitional government of national unity, women have not yet been consulted or approached to give their names for nomination and appointment to higher positions in government.

She was speaking during an advocacy forum, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Gender Affairs Unit, which brought together 67 women from women’s associations, regional government, and the opposition.

”UNMISS Gender Affairs Unit is developing and building our capacities to get positions in the government,” explained Tereza. ”We want the governor to appoint women, with consultation of women’s associations, before choosing another person.”

Her view is shared by Saida Salim Haroun, who hails from Raja.

”We are brainstorming on how women should get their share in the state and national governments,” said Saida, voicing the interests of women from her area.

”The peace agreement has given women rights, both in the opposition and in the government, to participate in governance,” she added.

She called on fellow women to unite, cooperate and share their problems, instead of sitting back and waiting for men to decide for them.

She said the fight for women’s representation should go down to the grassroots so that women’s lives are improved.

”Men think they are the strongest people,” said Joyce Andrea, a women’s representative from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-iO) women’s league.

”They [men] always push us down, not giving us our full rights,” Ms. Andrea told her peers during brainstorming session. ”Today we have learnt in article 1 chapter 4, in the peace agreement, that women have full rights to participate in the revitalized government.”

Ms. Andrea believes that once armed with this knowledge, women should go for the governor’s position in the Wau area, and not always allow men to dominate the highest seat in the regional government.

That is a view that is backed by the United Nations, including a pre-eminent Security Council resolution.

”This advocacy forum is constituted in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which calls for active participation of women in decision making at all levels,” said Sarah Ugele, a gender affairs officer working in UNMISS’s Wau field office.

She noted that women in the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region were the most marginalized during recruitment and employment in all sectors.

Source: UN Mission in South Sudan