South Sudan

Women in Eastern Equatoria discuss strategies for empowerment at an UNMISS-led forum

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MOSES YAKUDU

“We need to see women represented fully as civil servants and in key political positions,” said Jennifer Napongorika, State Minister for Gender, in Eastern Equatoria.

Minister Napongorika was speaking at a forum organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) at the Torit Women’s Centre, which witnessed participation from civil society groups, women’s representatives, teachers as well as national and international organizations.

The meeting aimed at following up on the need for South Sudanese women to fully participate and lead decision-making at all levels as well as the possibility of harnessing women’s development through the UN peacekeeping mission’s Quick Impact Projects programme.

“As our partner for peace, It would help us greatly if we could be conversant with the how to apply for the UNMISS Quick Impact Projects so that we can apply for funding for developmental projects that benefit women and girls directly,” said Flora Sebit, an executive member of Eastern Equatoria’s civil society network.

Participants also deliberated on the formation of a South Sudan Women’s Leadership Forum, a tool that can be harnessed by all women across the state to mentor each other and form a collective push for true inclusion.

For her part, Caroline Waudo, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in the state, urged women to not wait for opportunities but to create new vistas for themselves. “We will collectively mobilize funds, skills and support for us to be able to launch the Women’s Leadership Forum at the state level,” she averred. “However, we are all responsible for a successful launch. You have to help us by organizing yourselves and ensuring that you are at the driver’s seat as we move forward with this endeavor.”

Following spirited discussions, the forum ended with recommendations such as training traditional leaders to include women in customary courts; reconstituting more robust county women’s associations; organizing adult literacy options and training programmes on gender equality as well as advocacy.

“Unity is a very crucial aspect when it comes to advocacy,” stated Salome Chandia, a women’s representative. “There is a notion that we are own worst enemies; we need to stop being competitive and instead organize ourselves behind a common cause as women."