A two-day forum organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and focused on bolstering social cohesion and empowering women associations across Torit in Eastern Equatoria State has just concluded.
“The strength of your union holds great potential. For instance, you need to present a united front to claim your 35 percent quota in political governance, as stipulated in the revitalized peace agreement. So, take bold initiatives and make this dream come true,” said Bashir Aligelle, representing the peacekeeping mission.
The event brought together some 40 women from Torit, Gunyoro and Moti - a mixture of government and opposition-controlled areas – and aimed at mitigating communal conflict by promoting dialogue on inclusivity, national identity and equal opportunities.
“It is time to unite and seek meaningful participation in ongoing peace processes,” said Eunice Nakiru, a representative of Torit County and a member of a community-based organization.
“I work on the advisory council of the chief in my village to resolve conflicts arising from crimes. I strongly believe that continued engagement between women will help sort out our problems,” said Regina Akech from the Moti area.
The forum provided a platform for women to openly exchange experiences and share coping mechanisms when facing unequal participation and property rights as well as gender-based violence of all kinds.
“In my community, information on the harmful effects of some cultural practices such as early and forced marriage is poorly understood. I want to change that by empowering women to exercise their rights,” said Sabina Ifuho from the Gunyoro community.
By the end of the sessions, participants had resolved to commence regular exchange visits and monthly meetings, refrain from hate speech and to establish women-only groups.
“Most women here do not know their rights. Even those who do are fearful of standing alone to challenge men in the political arena. That will change when we trust each other,” added Eunice Nakiru.