South Soudan: Women Deserve a Place at the Table

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda
January 08, 2014

Women deserve a place at the table, says Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, general secretary of the World Y.W.C.A. and member of Peace is Loud:

The last month saw a sharp escalation of violence in South Sudan, with the usual impact on women and girls. The trauma has reverberated throughout the region, as the birth pangs of a new nation remain fresh.

Media images show vulnerable women fleeing with children and huddled in camps. But the other images of them as leaders and negotiators are conspicuously absent.

Media images show vulnerable women, fleeing with their children, huddled in camps or dying. But the other images of them as leaders and negotiators are silently absent. They fought with the men for freedom and independence; they were on the front lines while holding communities together during those dark years. They were actively involved in the peace processes and present when Sudan’s constitution was negotiated. These women were at the Oslo Donor’s Conference in 2005 asking to be involved as equals in monitoring the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

These days, from what I can tell, the only women visible at the negotiating tables are those serving in facilitating or supporting roles. The Sudanese women's position, perspective and experience are missing. They know what they want for their country in terms of politics, security and natural resources. They hold a position on small arms and children’s militarization, as well as a clear vision on the peaceful and prosperous South Sudan they yearn for.

It’s been almost 15 years since the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325, which "reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security." Why, therefore, are there no female advisers in the delegations and among mediators, nor space for Sudanese women to share their views?

We need a political solution upholding the constitution; safeguarding the nation’s resources; protecting human rights and ensuring healing of historical and new wounds. Another world is possible in South Sudan – but it demands a clear inclusion of women.


Originally published on the World Y.W.C.A. homepage.

Photo by EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.

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