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Female legislators visiting Kenya say they are eager to learn

By Nema Juma, Nairobi

The newly appointed female parliamentarians in the Transitional Revitalised National Legislative Assembly and Council of States said that they were eager to learn from the Kenyan system so that when they return back home, the knowledge and skills would help them implement the peace agreement.

Speaking during the opening of the five-day parliamentary exchange learning and experience program in the capital Nairobi in conjunction with UNWOMEN, facilitated by CEPO, the Minister of parliamentary Affairs Mary Mawai said that it was crucial time to learn from their Kenyan counterparts to strengthen their role as women in South Sudan.

“As a female parliamentarian, it’s high to learn from the Kenyan counterparts to strengthen our role in South Sudan,” she said.

She affirmed that her expectation after learning was to impose what they had learned to their system back home. 

She added that, the35% women affirmative action in South Sudan was not just given to women, but they worked for it.

During the war, women contributed a lot as they were left behind with families and children. They were making some shelters to accommodate their families…. they were also   providing health services in terms of nursing the wounded soldiers and cultivating to get food for their families, struggling and mobilising themselves to bring food to send to our soldiers in front line,” she said.

Mawai affirmed that there were women who were soldiers also in front line fighting together with men. As such, when they negotiated peace in 2005 that time women pushed for their participation to be enshrine in the constitution and at that time it was 25%.

“But as conflict continued in south Sudan, our contribution is also there for peace and as such we were added another percentage, we are now 35% women’s Affirmative action, that’s where we are in South Sudan.,” she said.

She said when watching television while in Kenya, learnt that there was what they called National affirmative budget for women and that impressed her adding if they have percentage they would also need to push for their budget.

 “I got soothing very interested that here in Kenya there is what we call National Affirmative budget for women, I said wow this is very interesting so if we all so have our percentage, we need to push for our budget also for that,” she said.

Meanwhile UNWOMEN representative said UNWOMEN was always ready to empower women leaders in South Sudan, requesting members of parliament to take that very seriously so that they could learn and be able to use it in South Sudan.

“UNWOMEN is always ready to empower women leaders from South Sudan for good governance, I requested my colleagues MPs to take the opportunities very seriously so that we can learn something from here and be able to use it in our country South Sudan,” he said. 

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