South Sudan Women in Leadership

By Akol Arop Akol

Cultures have restrictions on women’s participation either in-country or community affairs as they are considered to be the second gender that should only play some specific roles such as doing house duties, bearing children, and taking care of them.

Women are were not and still not given voices in the communities and their homes to air out their complaints, ask for their rights, or share their ideas about important matters just because of the misconception that they are not capable enough to sit and talk around one table with men.

When men do mistakes and women want to give advice, they are ignored. But when women do mistakes, they are beaten instead of being forgiven for what they have done wrong. This gender discrimination is a World challenge and it is a major problem that should be tackled in South Sudan as a developing country, by transforming from cultural communities into a modern or civilized society where every gender and everyone without any discriminatory patterns because of different backgrounds and color is allowed to have his or her voice heard. When we look back and compare South Sudan in 2011 and now, we could see the difference concerning attention for women.

Men started at least to listen to them because they have proven beyond doubt that despite urinating while sitting or standing, both are equal as long as they got brains and hearts.  They can equally think and work out what men can do.

The 35% given has at least empowered them to take courage and stand against belittling misconceptions by men. This is why we have some women now in community associations, organizations, and in government. What I see very vital to encourage their participation by first giving them platforms where they can have their voices expressed.

Women are shy to talk in public because they think everyone would be already criticizing like “she is just a woman, she can’t do it.” It is only this kind of doubt that neglects their participation.

There are cultural ideologies and restrictions against women which do not allow them to talk or go out there to interact with other people, because they might get brainwashed and may be taken by other men, this is the same thing I learned during a public lecture at the University of Juba under a theme “Women and Politics in Africa,” a comparative perspective. The lecture has been fruitful as it highlighted the struggle of women to have themselves represented in political leadership. Since 1990s women have been in various positions as Queens, Presidents, Ambassadors, Prime Ministers, Speakers and chiefs in about 26 African countries.  The lecture explained that from 1990s up to 2010, the women representation becomes tripled, and now growing compared to the past. In South Sudan, we have female Ministers, Secretaries, CEOs of organizations, these women should advocate for the rights of women. The issue is not because of lack of representation, it is that the representatives who hold social and political positions are not doing well enough to empower women.

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