As part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign, the United Nations Misison in South Sudan (UNMISS) is hosting numerous awareness-raising and solidarity-building activities centered around empowering women and girls in Warrap, South Sudan.
The official launch took place in Kuajok Freedom Square in collaboration with the state Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Welfare and local partners, where some 3,000 representatives from the government, the South Sudan National Police Service, county representatives, the National Disabled Association, women and youth groups, civil society, and students came together.
“I hope women begin participating actively in politics and make their voices heard across our country. However, only one per cent of women hold decision-making positions in the state government, significantly less than the agreed-upon 35 per representation under the renewed peace accord. We want to be seen and included. We desire the same rights and respect as men,” said Mary Ajok, a women’s representative at the event.
Subsequently, UNMISS organized two friendly football matches between women and girls from Kuajok's female football clubs.
Anastasie Nyirigira Mukangarambe, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Kuajok, lauded all the players as women human rights defenders saying that even two years ago, football was taboo for women and girls in South Sudan. Additionally, she encouraged women to continue pursuing the rights to which they are entitled, stressing that they have a long way to go before gaining parity. Among the myriad difficulties and obstacles that women confront across the country, Ms. Mukangarambe underscored the crucial right to education, which serves as the bedrock for women's empowerment.
“Women are often excluded from decision-making positions, not because they are denied that right, but because they are not trained to hold these positions. This confluence of forces has resulted in us falling short of the required 35 per cent female representation in all public spheres, but when I look at these young ladies, I think tomorrow will be better,” she noted with optimism.
Additionally, with support from the mission's Gender Unit, the Human Rights Division led a workshop in Mayom Totin, Gogrial East, on preventing and addressing stigma faced by survivors of sexual or gender-based violence for 80 people. This came in response to increasing reports of rape cases across Warrap.
Marcel Zinsou, a Human Rights Officer with UNMISS, stressed at the training that while women advocate for their rights, men too must demonstrate genuine respect for female community members.
Participants highlighted that increasing violence against women could be traced to a lack of community policing, stigma due to cultural norms, abuse of alcohol by youth and overall increase in insecurity.
“I urge men in the community to think twice before harming any woman,” said Roda Sube, Gender Officer. “Every survivor of sexual violence is somebidy’s sister, somebody’s daughter. Imagine if this happened in your families. We must eliminate all forms of violence against women. This is our collective responsibility.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).