#Womandla: South Sudan: Women make a stand for a place in government

Women in Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State call for the implementation of 35 per cent political representation, as stipulated in the revitalised peace agreement signed in September 2018, in the next state government.

The agreed quota of women should appear at all levels of the next government,” says a female representative, Rejina Daud. “As women we have rights to participate in decision making. We want our share of the judiciary, the courts and among chiefs.”

Ms. Daud was speaking at a political forum in Aweil town, facilitated by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, where ways to achieve the provisions of the revitalised peace agreement were discussed.

“The return to Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal as one state is a positive step towards uniting the people of the area. Our commissioners will now be able to provide services as they will get paid on time,” says Angelina Acheic Chok, another participant.

The discussion brought together ten political parties in the state, including the ruling party, the Sudan people’s Liberation Movement, and the main opposition party, the Sudan People’s Liberation movement-In Opposition. Among on the topics on the agenda were challenges of fair resource management and distribution, creating a selection process based on merit rather than connections and family ties, and the effective representation of youth in the transitional government of national unity.

“As youths of Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal we are demanding the provision of security and youth empowerment, including by means of a 20 per cent representation in the government,” says Akol Alung Wek, one of the young men in attendance. “Our state government should construct health facilities and a university so that the youth can continue with their studies here instead of moving to Juba to access higher learning institutions,” he added.

To guarantee the safety and unity of citizens in the state, forum participants recommended that roads be constructed, education made accessible, employment opportunities created and affordable food made available.

“Our main concern is food security. We want stable prices for commodities so that citizens will have food for the day,”

explains Paul Kuel Kuel, Chairperson of the Umbrella of the Political Parties in the area.

The leadership forum sought to provide assurances of the viability of the new state structure and inspire public confidence in the peace process.

“We are in the middle of the merging of three states into one, and there are a lot of challenges associated with this transition. This get-together will help the new administration generate ideas and suggestions to ensure that this process is peaceful and smooth,”

says Khalif Farah, a civil affairs officer serving with the UN peacekeeping mission.

With precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 put in place, participants maintained an appropriate physical distance from each other, used face masks, and avoided shaking hands with each other. Participants also used the gathering as an opportunity to explore ways to improve relations between Sudan and South Sudan, which would create a conducive environment for freedom of movement and the vital trade it could generate.