Hundreds of people took to the streets in Wau, in northwestern South Sudan, to march in support of an international campaign to eliminate violence against women and to end child marriage.
At an event marking the beginning of 16 days of activism to end gender-based violence, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan acting Head of Field Office for Wau, said it was vital that the government, local authorities, and communities worked together to improve the safety and security of girls and women.
“Women activists in Wau and across the region must be supported so they can do their jobs without being hindered,” said Mustapha Tejan-Kela. “We must also ensure that perpetrators responsible for violence are held accountable for their actions.’
United Nations Population Fund Wau Field Programme Coordinator, Mary Goretty, said exposure to, and fear of violence, deprives women and girls of their right to education, health and the ability to earn a living. She said gender equality was a prerequisite for the full realization of women and girls’ human rights.
“Protecting women and girls from violence and harmful practices is not only a moral and human rights imperative, it is also critical to the economic and social progress of a nation,” she said.
Discrimination against women and girls remains pervasive in every society and empowering women and girls required renewed efforts to end violence and harmful practices, she said.
At the launch of the campaign, the Deputy Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly, Viola Alexander, said building the capacity of female police officers was of paramount importance in ensuring issues of sexual and gender-based violence were managed appropriately.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which will run up to December 10, will include a number of events in Wau such as workshops, group discussions, drama performances and other awareness raising activities for all members of the community, including those who are internally displaced.