News / Africa

New Agency Trains Women Leaders in Southern Sudan

UN Women also helps register and prepare potential voters

Multimedia

Audio
Charlton Doki

This is Part 5 of a 5-part series on UN Women
Go to Part:  1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Among the issues facing women in southern Sudan are high rates of poverty, illiteracy and maternal mortality. Bringing those numbers down by 2015 is the aim of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs.

Lucie Luguga, who is the program manager for UN Women in the region, says “Statistics show that out of a 100,000 women who give birth, 2,045 die. If you look at the number of women who are aware of how HIV/AIDS is transmitted, how to prevent it and how really to empower yourself not to get infection, there’s very few."

"So," she continued, "if we are talking about realizing the MDGs by the year 2015 in south Sudan in terms of women, I think we shall not be able to get there.”

To address some of these challenges, the United Nations is training women as leaders who can advance their causes in the legislative agenda.

For example, one of the new agency’s efforts in southern Sudan, which has high illiteracy rates, was to educate women about their right to vote in last year’s national elections and referendum on independence.

Darfur woman carries water.
Darfur woman carries water.

“We undertook awareness programs up to the payam [district] level," she explained. "For instance, in the elections we had two people in every county who went to all the payams in the county to spread the word about the elections, to create awareness about election laws and on the preconditions for voting. That awareness program enabled many women to register and vote."

"For your information," Lugaga continuned, "of all the registered voters in the elections, 55 percent were women. For the referendum, 52 percent [of all registered voters] were women.”

The training also showed potential women candidates how to present their campaign messages to the electorate, how to lobby for votes and how to prepare a statement of principles.

The results were impressive.

She says women made gains in southern Sudan’s legislative assembly and in the country’s 10 state assemblies.

A woman registers to vote in referendum on independence for south Sudan in Jonglei State.
A woman registers to vote in referendum on independence for south Sudan in Jonglei State.

The percentage of women holdings seats in the national legislature went from 20% to 33% and from 20% to 28% in the states.

Luguga says despite the increase in the number of female legislators, the agency is still working to support more women, including in the civil service. According to legal quotas, women should make up 25% of all public sector employees. Luguga would like to see that increased to 50%.

UN Women is also working with a civil society organization, South Sudan Women Empowerment Network, to lobby to have the protection of women guaranteed in the final constitution of the new country.

The national assembly has passed an interim one, but it has not yet been presented to the public for debate and for a referendum.  Lugaga hopes more support for women can be included in the document before it is finalized.

Women with their children for displaced persons in Zam Zam camp in North Darfur, Sudan.
Women with their children for displaced persons in Zam Zam camp in North Darfur, Sudan.

“So the [interim] constitution that has been reviewed [by the legislature]," said Lugaga. "If only it could provide for the betterment of the welfare of the women, if it could make sure that it includes sections that will make resources available, to make living conditions of women in south Sudan better, to bring water near to where the women are, to make available economic facilities, economic enterprises that can benefit women then I think that would have been a very good constitution for the women.”

UN Women also wants to mobilize key segments of southern Sudanese society in support of women. The agency will talk with religious and traditional leaders and women lawyers about how they can promote women’s issues once southern Sudan becomes independent in July.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid