While woman’s quotas are still be discussed in many countries of Western Europe, there has been a woman’s quota of 25% in South Sudan for all levels of government since 2011. Nevertheless, many women in this rather young country are exposed to daily discrimination and violence, and the situation is not expected to improve.
On the contrary, women are experiencing more domestic violence and are suffering from the lack of social and financial security as a consequence of the Corona pandemic and the corresponding curfews. Moreover, the peace process in South Sudan is stagnating and violent conflicts among the ethnic groups are increasing. “Two steps forward, one step back”, that is how a participant describes the current situation in the country. Especially in these times, it is essential that the voice of females are accepted and that women can actively participate in shaping peace and security in the country.
To find possible answers and solutions to these and other challenges, members of YMCA South Sudan, national and international NGOs and staff of governmental organizations held a web conference on the topic “Women, Peace and Security” during two days.
Although the women’s quota is formally adhered at a governmental level, women are mostly excluded from the legislative process. They often just deputies or fill in jobs in insignificant ministries. The fact that young women under the age of 50 are not represented in the government was also considered as problematic. Due to the lack of youth successors, a large gap will arise in the next few years and it will be difficult to fill it. The missing education, the retention of power of the previous female politicians and the social environment were seen as possible causes for the lack of the female politicians. The latter cause discourages even well-educated women from engaging in the legislative process and thus to contribute to the security and peace in the country. Young women who are interested in a political function are often derided. Moreover, they are attributed a lack of experience. The view that women first have to start a family and become a mother is widespread. Even if a candidacy is successful, it is common that the political success is only acknowledged because of a male acquaintance in the woman’s environment.
Possible approaches were outlined to meet the challenge of the lack of women in the politics during the conference. Thus, on the one hand, YWCA South Sudan, together with some partner organizations, aims to provide a platform for women to express their political views in a safe environment. On the other hand, through various activities they want to strengthen men, who are committed to the political rights of women. The goal must be to grant these rights not only formally, but also to provide equal rights for women.