Adolescent girls chatting at their weekly meeting at the Women and Girls friendly space Center in Borin Bor, South Sudan. Photo: Andreea Campeanu/CARE

As South Sudan turns ten amidst the worst humanitarian situation in its short history, women and girls offer a path to a brighter future if they are properly supported, says CARE

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN, JULY 8, 2021 – As South Sudan celebrates its 10th year of Independence, the country faces its worst humanitarian context since its birth in 2011. Despite the vast challenges, there are areas of hope in the form of efforts and initiatives by local women's organizations. These groups are working to tackle endemic sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and pervasive gender inequalities that are fueling conflict and humanitarian needs in the country. However, more, and immediate investment in, and support for, these woman-led initiatives are immediately needed to help craft a brighter future for South Sudan.

"We need to break this cycle of violence and vulnerability amongst women and girls, and the best way to do so is by involving women from within the country to find these solutions,” says Rosalind Crowther, CARE South Sudan Country Director. "As South Sudan faces its worst humanitarian situation since its independence 10 years ago, local women's voices, ideas, and leadership are more crucial than ever. More funding is urgently in need for local women's rights organizations and networks. These are the groups best placed to deliver culturally appropriate and sustainable interventions to shape a better future for their country."

With funding from the Canadian government, CARE South Sudan currently supports women-led organizations and networks to promote women's voices and leadership. These organizations and networks tirelessly work to promote the advancement of women's rights in South Sudan, tackle economic inequality, and SGBV. They also work to mainstream gender transformative approaches into the ongoing peace process and the representation of women in decision-making roles and processes within the country.

Jackline Nasiwa, the Founder of the Center for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) and part of the CARE supported network, says: "One of the biggest areas where women have played a role in the South Sudan story is when the conflict erupted. The country was chaotic, but despite this, women mobilized to have a voice and came out to influence the different parties involved to negotiate and find a peaceful way to solve the conflict. Our pressure helped lead to the roundtable peace discussions that ensued. We have also been instrumental in helping regular citizens – especially women – all over the country understand the wording and implications of the Peace Process agreement, so they can also take ownership of it and implement it at a grassroots level.”

"On a more practical level, women were also the ones on the ground rescuing and supporting neighbours, regardless of their ethnic background (which when the conflict first broke out was a huge driver in the fighting). I had a neighbour from a different tribe who had no water or food, and of course, I had to help her, and in this regard, it helped open conversations across ethnic boundaries, and women were really leading in this reconciliation and peacebuilding. It is said that women have the heart of a mother, and they feel the pain of others, and when support is given to women, they do more with it as a result. But despite this, we face a lot of challenges in terms of lack of support in capacity building of women-led organizations and funding."

Activities carried out by these groups include the mentoring of young girls on feminism and how feminism can take shape in the context of South Sudan, as well as awareness-raising on sexual exploitation and women's sexual and reproductive rights in schools.

One young participant in the feminism training noted, "I didn't know that what I used to do by fighting for my sister's and friend's rights defined me as a feminist. So now I'm happy, and I can confidently call myself a feminist, I will use the knowledge I have gain[ed] to stand for my right and fight for the equal rights of women and girls."

Crowther notes: "Local Women-Led Organizations (WLOs) in South Sudan are under-resourced and under-supported, affecting their institutional growth. Yet, we know that if women are empowered, the whole family and community will benefit. All our experience and data also show that women, especially when involved in governance, humanitarian response and decision making, can also be some of the most effective changemakers and peacebuilders."

It is crucial that women-led organizations are at the center of humanitarian policies, funding, and programs if real progress is to be made. This includes ensuring that South Sudanese women can participate meaningfully and lead discussions with donors and decision-makers about how best to back their work to support other women, girls, and their communities.

Crowther adds: "Women will play a critical role in building a peaceful, cohesive and prosperous South Sudan. Collectively, we must do much more to proactively support the empowerment of South Sudanese women to take up decision-making and leadership roles within the humanitarian system and beyond, to act as role models and encourage others. When women are empowered, everyone benefits."

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CARE has spokespeople available. For media inquiries, please contact:

Christina Kakaletris
media@care.ca

Available spokespeople include:

  • Rosalind Crowther - CARE International in South Sudan Country Director
  • Jackline Nasiwa - Centre for Inclusive Governance Peace and Justice (CIGPJ)
  • Riya William - Executive Director of Crown The Woman, South Sudan

About CARE South Sudan's Women's Voice and Leadership project

CARE South Sudan is implementing the Women's Voice and Leadership project funded by the Canadian government, a 4-year program to strengthen the capacity of women's rights organizations in three states of the country. So far, CARE is working with about 32 women's rights organizations that are delivering different projects, including GBV awareness, women economic empowerment, policy advocacy, and COVID-19 response. CARE South Sudan's strategy puts women and girls in the front and center of our work through scaling up partnerships with local actors, including women-led organizations. In this program, women-led organizations (WLOs) are in the driver's seat, and they determine the role of partners like CARE in supporting their struggles. CARE's role is around accompaniment, facilitating, catalyzing, and linking WLOs together to support one another and the South Sudanese women's movement. WLOs identify their challenges and methods of solving them. Project activities and goals are defined by the WLOs themselves. WVL-South Sudan issues grants for core funding to WLOs to spend it as they see fit to strengthen their organizations, work, and advocacy. These WLOs are selected by the WLO-led Strategic Advisory Committee, not by CARE.

About Center for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice

Centre for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) is a not-for-profit and non-partisan national Non-Governmental Organization founded by South Sudanese nationals who aspire for a peaceful, prosperous, just, and inclusive society where women, youth, and other vulnerable and registered in South Sudan since 2017. It is founded to promote civic engagement and inclusivity in promoting peace, accountable governance, reforms, development, political and democratic processes. CIGPJ strives for a society that upholds the principles of inclusivity, equity, democracy, accountability, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence. CIGPJ envisions to be the championing justice, human rights, peaceful coexistence, reconciliation, tolerance, equality, citizen's engagement, information dissemination, and promotion of rule of law and accountability. CIGPJ has its head office in Juba and field office in Bor and Yei. It is a member of the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), South Sudan Women's Coalition for Peace and the South Sudan Civil Society Forum (SSCSF), and the Law Society of South Sudan (SSLS) local networks working for Justice, Peace, and democratic processes. Facebook page HERE.

About CARE Canada

Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE develops solutions alongside women and girls in developing countries to lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty and out of crisis. CARE stands with women and girls around the world in economic empowerment. We bring women, girls, and their communities together to challenge inequality while facing issues like food insecurity, climate change, and emergency relief in times of crisis or disaster. CARE works in 100 countries around the world.

To learn more about CARE Canada, visit www.care.ca