News / Africa

Can Women Save South Sudan?

  • Sisters Matilda (left) and Sarah Rial speak to a remote participant in a conference about restoring peace in South Sudan, via Skype.
  • Women carry food at a food distribution site in Nyal, Unity State, April1, 2014. Women and children make up the majority of people displaced by the conflict in South Sudan.
  • Western Bahr el Ghazal Finance Minister Lilian Riziq tells a conference in Washington that women can play a key role in bringing peace to South Sudan, just as they have done in her state.
  • Women carry the body of a civilian killed in the center of Malakal, Upper Nile State in South Sudan, Jan. 21, 2014.
  • Sarah Rial, organizer of the conference in Washington, D.C. on May 24-25, 2014, says the time is ripe for women to take a lead role in restoring peace in South Sudan.
  • South Sudanese women, displaced by the fighting, collect garbage in a camp for displaced persons in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Juba, February 19, 2014.
  • The executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (third from left) said during a visit in February to a U.N. base in Juba where thousands of people have sought shelter from unrest in South Sudan that women should be given a bigger role in the peace process, and they and children are bearing the brunt of the conflict.
A conference in Washington is told that putting South Sudanese women in leadership positions could help to bring lasting peace to the country.
With South Sudan's peace process floundering, members of the diaspora and their American supporters have come up with a possible solution: give women leadership roles and let them restore peace.

“Women bring order to things much faster than men with AK-47s,” U.S. businessman and political advisor, Ken Feltman, told a conference in Washington that was focussed on bringing sustainable peace and economic development to South Sudan.

“The more women we can get involved everywhere, the better off we seem to be," Feltman said. 

"Women tend to  be what we need to hold things together and to keep us out of the tragic consequences of men just moving off in every direction,” he said.


The conference looked to the state of Western Bahr el Ghazal as an example of how to build and keep peace.The state in the northwest of South Sudan has remained peaceful, for the most part, in the past five-and-a-half months, even as violence has engulfed other states and plunged the country into crisis.  

State Finance Minister Lilian Riziq attributed that sustainable peace to the fact that different ethnic groups live in harmony in Western Bahr el Ghazal -- and because women play lead roles there.
Women bring order to things much faster than men with AK-47s.


“We have women ministers -- I happen to be one of them," she said.

"We have two women advisors to the governor out of nine, and we have 15 women in the state assembly. Basically, women are everywhere. You find them as nurses, as doctors. There’s so much women leadership emerging at different levels of governance, “ she said.
 

Years of war changed women's role


South Sudan's women are no strangers to leadership roles: the long struggle for independence forced them to move away from the traditional women's place as a mother and homemaker to the roles of breadwinner and peacemaker as men went off to war and never came back, Riziq said.

Women were active in the negotiations that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, which ended the decades-long war of independence, but, in the first round of peace talks during the current conflict, the government side included no women.

That changed after women pressed to be included in the talks, which have led to two ceasefire agreements, the most recent of which was signed three weeks ago and appears to be holding better than the first one.
 
We need a woman president in America, not only in South Sudan.
"Women do play a very big role in building peace at the current moment," both at the peace negotiations in Addis Ababa but also on the ground in South Sudan, Riziq said.

"Communication is the most difficult part in South Sudan, but women are already playing this role. Women bring communities together because they can spread the message of peace very fast and they have abilities to reach people in the rural areas,” Riziq said.


Time is ripe for women leaders


Sarah Cleto Rial, the organizer of the conference and program director at women-led, women-focussed humanitarian group, My Sister's Keeper, said it’s time for women to take the lead in restoring peace in South Sudan. 

“Most of the people in the camps for the displaced are women and children, most of the people being killed are women and children...I think it’s time that women have to step in and start the peace process," she said.
Women can bring communities together because they can spread the message of peace very fast and they have abilities to reach people in the rural areas.


"Sometimes it sounds like the peace process is not going to happen. It’s time for women to start getting involved and do something,” Rial said.

Just two months into the conflict, the head of the U.N. agency that fights for gender equality and the empowerment of women said women and children have borne the brunt of the conflict in South Sudan, and pressed for women to play a leading role at peace talks in Addis Ababa.

"For peace to take root in South Sudan, women and men and young people must play a full role in a national dialogue, peace negotiations, nation-building and strengthening social cohesion in the country," Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, the executive director of U.N. Women, told reporters in Juba, where she was wrapping up a two-day visit to South Sudan in February.

The conflict in South Sudan is now five-and-a-half months old.
 

Madame President?


When asked if she thought South Sudan needs a woman at the helm -- and, more particularly, if she would consider running for president --  Rial replied with a hearty laugh.

But then she added," If I can be part of a team building the country, I'm happy to be part of a team."

Riziq said, "We need a woman president in America, not only in South Sudan."

"But it's not just about being the president," she added.

"I think this is a time for women to take the lead because women, especially in South Sudan, have shown and have proven ability in leading during difficult situations and solving difficult issues," she said.
 

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid