As South Sudan emerges from five decades of civil war, security challenges dominate discussions about the country’s future. For the majority of women, however, the main threats to their security come not from traditional external sources, such as militia groups or armed conflict with Sudan, but from within their own homes. These threats are rooted in women’s lack of empowerment and economic independence, and are deeply embedded in culture and customary practices.
This short paper examines key threats facing South Sudanese women (and, where relevant, girls) in their homes. It begins by looking at the dire health situation, in particular maternal mortality rates. It then examines health security, economic and food (in)security, childbearing risks, and marriage-related insecurity, including domestic violence and widowhood. It draws on fieldwork conducted in 2010 and 2011, including focus groups, interviews with key informants, and a review of the existing literature.1 Research has reflected the dominance of the Dinka and Nuer tribes and may not apply to all women in all settings in the country.