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Women seek representation in new gov’t

By: Khamis Cosmas Lokudu

The Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) is yet to be formed on February 22nd, 2020, and South Sudanese women want to be participate and be represented in the political decision-making as stipulated in the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.

Amer Manyok Deng, Chairperson of Women’s Block of South Sudan confirmed in an interview that the women came up with the subject of 35 percent simply because women were the majority and vulnerable group in the country.

“The Former Political Detainees (FDs) are bringing a female candidate to take over a position of Vice President and other political parties to consider getting more women on board so that the implementation of Affirmative Action can kick-start from there narrowing to the bottom. Other Political Parties (OPP) are expected to nominate qualified women who want to provide services to the needy persons. Though, our rights need to be represented by right women”, she added.

Zeina Osman, a representative at Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) called upon the parties to the R-ARCSS to observe the implementation of South Sudan women’s political rights.

Quoting the figure of 550 parliamentarians to be appointed as members of parliament, the Affirmative Action according to her, needs to be considered by linking more women to join the parliament to reflect the practical part of article 1.4.4 of the R-ARCSS regarding  35 percent and article 16 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011.

In a separate interview, Mrs. Victoria Benjamin, Member of South Sudan women Monthly Forum revealed that grassroots women do not understand the Affirmative Action at all. Women always consider 35 percent when they stay at home or in workplace, which is not the case.

Benjamin said women should get involved in political activities in order to claim their share in the forthcoming R-TGoNU. In her strong message to the political parties, she eloquently described that if a Minister is male, the deputy has to be a female and vice versa.

Speaking to the media on same topic, Hannah Lona, Member of Parliament in Amadi State believed the research conducted by Women International Peace Centre highlighted the gaps that female politicians face.

She requested the Civil Society Organizations to work together with female politicians to address women issues. The number of women exercising politics is not convincing, Lona advised women to join any political party to address women issues in South Sudan.

“All the acts must be gender sensitive in inclusion of Affirmative Action to allow women take equal positions with men because women have more than 50 percent of the country’s population. Hence, in this regard women have that right to take positions at all levels of governance”, Lona concluded. 

At regional perspectives, Hellen Kezia Nwoha Executive Director of Women’s International Peace Centre based in Kampala whispered, concerning women participation in peace process and decision making, the region acknowledges the effort of South Sudanese women to ensure that they got their percentage into R-ARCSS.

“However, the implementation of Affirmative Action is not up to date. Therefore, it’s not South Sudan matter but it’s an African issue that all protocols and frameworks of peace agreements would have allocation for women but implementation is a problem,” she declared.

In what Hellen as reservation is that, the peace agreement is asking for only women within the political parties to be appointed into positions and decision making, thus, there are women in Civil Society Organizations, business sectors who have capacities to occupy those position. So limiting participation to female politicians is a barrier and instead, the political space need to be open beyond political parties by acknowledging women in civil service, career women, women in economic sectors, and women in medical sciences with capabilities to be able to lead in the new structures in the country.

“It would be meaningful by considering women in their individual careers and nominated in those positions”, she appealed. 

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