Sudan: Traditional clothing provides protection for women and adolescent girls in Darfur

from US Agency for International Development
Published on 30 Apr 2006
The overarching goal of the USAID/OTI Sudan program is to strengthen Sudanese confidence and capacity to address the causes and consequences of political marginalization, violence, and instability within the context of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Government of Sudan.

The OTI Sudan program focuses on promoting the emergence of responsive and effective civil authorities; providing opportunities for peaceful dialogue within and among communities; fostering the emergence of an active civil society; increasing the availability of quality, independent information; and protecting vulnerable populations from grave human rights violations and related abuses.

As villages were razed and homes destroyed throughout Darfur, many women were forced to flee with only the clothing they were wearing. Moreover, as time elapsed in the IDP camps their clothing became more worn and threadbare. As a consequence, many women and girls unaccustomed to such immodesty resorted to conducting their chores and daily activities in IDP camps during the evening hours, under the cover of darkness. Beyond the humiliation, this practice exposed these women to greater risks of assault.

Through a network of Sudanese organizations, the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) supports a broad range of activities that address the causes and consequences of violence against women.

Through an OTI small grant, a Sudanese organization procured and distributed 76,000 traditional dresses known as "tobes" to the most vulnerable internally displaced (IDP) women and girls in Darfur. The grant bridges a two-month gap in the Non-Food Item (NFI) common pipeline for this essential piece of traditional clothing.

The tobes are allowing women and girls to move around during daylight hours with the safety, comfort and dignity. They will protect women and adolescent girls from potential violence by providing them with adequate clothing.

For further information, please contact:

In Washington, D.C: Victoria Rames, Program Manager, Tel: (202) 712-4899,