Opinion: Women and politics in South Sudan

By Simon E Kulusika

South Sudanese women during cultural activity (Photo credit: Pashoda.org)
South Sudanese women during cultural activity (Photo credit: Pashoda.org)

July 9, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – I have read with some misgivings the cries of Women of South Sudan (SS) regarding appointment to the positions of Governorship in South Sudan. The Women previously raised issues with appointment to cabinet posts. It would appear that the unfairness complained about have not been addressed by the appointing authorities or some of them.

The peace agreement provides for 35% representation of women in all public and private activities in SS. As regards public institutions women’s participation is supposed not to fall below 35%: cabinet, governorship, speakers of national and states assemblies and their deputies.  By simple calculation this seems not to be the case so far.

For example, there should have been at least 12 women as full cabinet ministers. At least 3 women as governors and 3 or more women as speakers in compliance with the terms of the peace agreement. The above raises two or three questions: Did the appointing authorities intentionally ignore the 35% as stipulated in the agreement? Did the political advisors to the appointing authorities fail to properly proffer advice on these matters?

Have the women organizations in SS done the necessary lobbying on their rights for adequate representation? Answers to these questions will establish the sources of oversights that must be addressed to prevent frustration and disaffection.

Women in South Sudan, as elsewhere in the world have to fight for human rights on all fronts; with greater emphasis on their rights as specified in CEDAW of the UN. They must pay especial attention to matters of inheritance, dowry, household leadership, property ownership, maternity and healthcare challenges, economic emancipation, political participation and financial empowerment, etc. They cannot get those things on silver plates. They have to struggle in order to attain them under hostile circumstances of our days.

Women’s rights are to be taken as make-believe. They are real. But to realize them women must stand up and fight for them. The fight is unavoidable especially in SS, a nation where men predominate in every spheres of human life. Women should not be alone nor only supported by human rights activists.  The entire society should stand with them. It’s a noble fight: fight for freedom and equality. Viva la mama.

The author is an associate professor of law at Zambia Open University. He can be reached via: chibale_mellissa@yahoo.com

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