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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures. For now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid