News / Africa

    Women Take Role in South Sudan Peace Talks

    South Sudan peace negotiators meet in a night club in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 13, 2014.
    South Sudan peace negotiators meet in a night club in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 13, 2014.
    Marthe van der Wolf
    Three members of the team negotiating for South Sudanese rebels in Ethiopia are women.  They have been playing a role in what is usually a male arena.

    The ongoing high-level peace talks between South Sudan’s government and opposition include three women on the opposition side who are members of the national parliament in Juba.

    The three delegates said they were aware seeing women sitting at the negotiating table might look strange to some Africans.

    Sophia Pak Gai said she felt her country needed to be transformed.

    “We want to see that our people live in harmony and in peace.  And actually, we are here pushing for peace as women because the majority of the population in South Sudan are women, 65 percent,” she said.

    Fighting in South Sudan broke out mid-December between the opposition and the government headed by President Salva Kiir.

    The peace delegations have been in Addis Ababa for negotiations on a cease-fire since the beginning of January.  Each delegation consists of 10 members.

    The conflict began as a division in South Sudan’s ruling party, the SPLM.  The party is no stranger to war as it fought against its northern neighbor Sudan for decades.

    Pak Gai said the role of women during war should not be underestimated.

    “Women participated in many fronts, they took care of families, they nursed the wounded soldiers, they prepared food for soldiers, even in the front line.  And on top of this, they took arms actually.  They took arms along their counterparts," she said.

    One of the women who was fighting on the frontline is delegation member Banguot Amumm.

    She said that during negotiations, women were more specific than men.

    “For others, who will see us on TV, at the roundtable they will see it as a shock for them, and they were not expecting us as women to be the one rebelling.  We cannot accept to continue under the leadership of Kiir, where he organized himself and would start targeting certain ethnic groups to maintain himself in power,” said Amumm.

    The delegation of South Sudan’s government does not include any women.  Acting lead negotiator and Minister of Information Michael Makuei said the delegation was appointed by presidential decree.

    “What is important is not the gender representation but what is important is the achievement of the objective.  The objective is irrespective if they are represented or not,” said Makuei.

    But former minister of social development and SPLM deputy chairperson Sarah Nyanath believed it did make a difference if women were present.  She said women had different priorities than men, such as protecting women and children during conflicts.

    The SPLM has known affirmative action for a long time, assigning at least a quarter of seats to women in every party body.  In parliament, 100 out of 332 seats are women.

    The United Nations agency UN Women said that for the most part, there was a striking absence of women in formal peace negotiations around the world.  The agency said their role as negotiators, mediators, signatories or even witnesses remained notably low.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    The Complicated Math of AIDS

    A lot, and then some: the huge - and complicated - cost of the AIDS epidemic

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora