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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs