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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid