SPLM encourages women to aspire higher leadership positions

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April 12, 2011 (WAU) - South Sudan’s governing party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), said on Tuesday that it wants to encourage more women to aspire to elevated leadership positions in the government and private institutions. This will be achieved, the SPLM, say by improving girl’s education in the oil producing region.

Speaking at the closing session of a two day seminar on Tuesday 12, 2011, Brigadier General Effessio Kon Uguak, a senior member of the SPLM in the southern state of Western Bahr el Ghazal said there are positive indications that women in South Sudan are getting into higher leadership positions in both government and private institutions.

"There are positive indications now showing that women are getting to higher leadership positions and are leading the way and helping girls to emulate them. This is in line with SPLM vision which encourages women to aspire for more leadership positions," said Uguak. He gave the examples of the minister of Agriculture in the government of south Sudan, Anne Ito and the governor of the neighboring state of Warrap, Nyandeng Malek Deliech.

"Having such accomplished women in the society today, is a golden opportunity for the upcoming female professionals to emulate them.”

But he acknowledged that “unless South Sudanese men become ready to change their attitudes towards women, not much progress will be made to empower women."

“It is upon men to change their attitude towards women” and bring them into the development process, he explained.

The SPLM official said that men need to inspire women to do more as they make up over half the population and should not be left behind.

Uguak, who is the deputy governor and a minister of local government in the government of western Bahr el Ghazal State, also encourages women to spend more time in school and develop their potential.

He said this can be achieved by changing laws that infringe on women rights purposely or accidentally.

The minister advised men in the state to mentor their wives and children, saying he continued to mentor his daughters even today, when they are now accomplished.

Monica Luis Madut, adviser on gender affairs in the state government said that the South Sudan cannot hope to achieve success without bringing on board women to contribute to its economy. The region is due to become independent in July following a referendum in January agreed as part of a 2005 peace deal.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement allocated 25 percent of all government positions for women but this was not achieved.

The South Sudan government, Madut observed, was committed to empowerment of women, so that they can join hands with men to bring progress to the soon-to-be independent country.

"Women involvement in all decision making plans and activities is vital, we need women talents and leadership, for any country to develop," she stressed.

The recent seminar, entitled "Women of Western Bahr el Ghazal: Resilient Voices," focused on women’s leadership at the executive level and empower them to establish goals, inspire other women, and bring change to their organizations, their communities and their country.

In her remarks Madut said Western Bahr el Ghazal state has powerful women who can come together to bring development to South Sudan.

"Women need to have vision and change their management style through such training, as things are changing very fast in the market," she said.

She said the 24 trainees formed group discussions at the training which helped them to exchange leadership models and share experiences. "We give critical feedback in the most supportive way to our trainees," she stressed. In terms of achievement, she said, the trainees are now more confident, articulate, concise and quick to respond.

Madut said that until you have enough professional women, you are not going to bring transformation.

"Once you have enough women in the leadership position, they can influence the policies to bring changes," she said. One of the participants said that the two-day training provided them with relevant tools for what they should do as leaders.

"The unique thing about this training is that we gained, earned, shared and applied the skills and tools," the participant said adding that they had learned how to manage their energies.

Another participant said she was inspired by the training to aspire to be a leader.

"This training empowers Western Bahr el Ghazal state women to become socially and economically independent," she said, adding that she also learned how to be focused and manage things to achieve results.