United Nations (UN) Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa joins Sudanese women for International Women’s Day

United Nations (UN) Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa joins Sudanese women for International Women’s Day

United Nations (UN) Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa joins Sudanese women for International Women’s Day
United Nations (UN) Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa joins Sudanese women for International Women’s Day

UN Women - Africa

UN Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa Dr. Maxime Houinato conducted a five-day mission in Sudan, where he met with UN partners, civil society groups, youth activists and others to strengthen partnerships and galvanize action for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country. The mission came as Sudan was celebrating 70th anniversary of Sudanese women’s movement and coinciding with International Women’s Day celebration.

The meetings undertaken during the mission underscored Sudan’s progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment, while also providing an opportunity to share recommendations to further strengthen Sudan’s efforts in safeguarding women’s rights.

Dr. Houinato began his visit by meeting with UN Women staff, and later met with women groups from various states in Sudan, including women from conflict zones and IDP camps. Several challenges and issues were raised during the meeting, including women’s participation in politics, governance, and security, women’s economic empowerment, capacity building and advocacy, addressing gender-based violence and funding opportunities. He recognized to the resilience of Sudanese women and their unprecedented role in the revolution towards a democratic path and reiterated UN Women’s support to women’s movements in Sudan to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, Regional Director had an inspiring conversation with young women about the challenges they face in driving Sudan’s gender and youth agenda. He praised them for their significant contributions to gender equality. 

UN Women’s key international partners in Sudan also figured prominently in the agenda.  The Regional Director also met with development partners, including representatives from the Swedish Embassy, Norwegian Embassy, German Embassy and USAID. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss how UN Women and development partners can best serve women and girls in Sudan. Dr. Houinato thanked development partners for their strong commitment to advancing women’s rights in the country, as well as their assistance to the UN Women Sudan team. Sweden, the EU and Germany are among UN Women’s top funding and policy partners, globally and in Sudan. In particular, Sweden, as the main donor, contributed 3.5 million USD to fund UN Women’s work in Sudan in 2019-2022.

He then met with UN Heads of Office in Sudan to discuss how the UN Country Team is incorporating gender into its work, advancing gender parity, and implementing the Gender Scorecard in the country. Dr. Maxime also met with Volker Perthes, UN Secretary-Special General’s Representative for Sudan and Head of UNITAMS, to discuss how UN Women can collaborate with UNITAMS to strategically support the gender portfolio during the transition.

Dr. Houinato also met as well with UN OCHA Sudan Head of Office, Victoria Victoria Saiz-Omenaca. The two UN officials agreed that strong coordination to mainstream gender in humanitarian work in Sudan.

As mission coincided with International Women’s Day celebrations in Sudan, Regional Director attended various events and reiterated UN Women’s readiness to continue to support women’s movement in the country.

The celebrations kicked off at the Swedish Ambassador’s residence in Khartoum. Organized by UN Women Sudan and the Swedish Embassy, and hosted by H.E. Signe Burgstaller, Swedish Ambassador to Sudan, the event brought together women’s rights activists, development partners, media and artists to celebrate the 70th anniversary of women’s movement in Sudan and bring attention to the gender digital divide.

The celebrations continued as the conference to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Sudanese women’s movement took place on 8 March. The event provided a platform for a fruitful discussion as UN Women’s partner Development Studies and Research Institute presented the results of the study on the “Status of the Women Movement in Sudan” gathering women from different states.

Regional Director later attended the joint UN International Women’s Day event, where he called for an increased digital literacy, enhanced safety on digital spaces for women and girls and access to the internet. “If women and girls do not have access to these technologies, safely, they will miss out on the entire world that we have. We need to bring women into the digital space more significantly and ensure they are safe,” he stated. Regional Director recognized the gaps in the gender and technology domain, referring to UN Women’s recent data, according to which women’s exclusion from the digital world comes with massive costs for all, having already shaved USD 1 trillion from the gross domestic product of low- and middle-income countries in the last decade—a loss that, without an intended plan of action and suitable investment, is expected to increase to USD 1.5 trillion by 2025.

He commended Sudanese young women for creative apps  they developed, an indicator to the potential of Sudanese women in technology.

On his final day, Dr. Houinato met with African ambassadors and discussed the situation in Sudan as well as how representatives from various African countries can support the Framework Agreement and women’s participation in the peace process.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Women – Africa.