“Access to education for girls is critical if South Sudan wants a permanent peace,” said Maria Angelo, an activist from the world’s youngest nation’s Northern Bahr El Ghazal state.
The 23-year-old was speaking at an International Women’s Day event last week.
Her contention: Education is key for gender equality and equal participation by women in decision-making, governance, and politics.
Maria’s words were received with much applause by 200 women from different walks of life attending the event.
“We are at a critical moment in our country’s history,” stated Achol William Amuoi, Speaker, Transitional Legislative Assembly.
“When the peace deal was signed in 2018, we were promised 35 per cent affirmative action. We have been lobbying to make this a reality, but truth is, women make up 50 per cent of any society. With recent political developments, it’s important for every South Sudanese citizen to weigh in on our permanent constitution, plus, eventually cast our vote at elections. Therefore, we need to be 50-50 partners in shaping a better future for our country,” she explained eloquently.
“Technology and innovation are necessary tools that can empower South Sudanese women to lobby for an equal place in public life,” added Maria. Speaker Amuoi agreed.
“For a long time, South Sudanese women have been relegated to the background—they are considered only daughters, mothers, wives, or sisters. However, they are true peacebuilders and peacemakers exerting a massively positive impact on their communities. We must harness and build their capacities,” she averred.
“It isn’t easy to balance home and work,” admitted the Speaker. “But we musn’t give up and we must speak up for our rights.”
Apart from these serious discussions, there was also space to enjoy oneself with traditional dances and an exhibition of handicrafts.
March 8 is annually marked as International Women’s Day across the globe.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).