Government of Sudan Reaffirms Its Commitment to Women's Rights and Justice

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Government of Sudan Reaffirms Its Commitment to Women's Rights and Justice


UNIFEM supported the Gender Justice Workshop for South Sudan held from 12-14 February 2007, and participants came from government ministries, civil society organizations, the donor community and the media. The workshop aimed to familiarize participants with the concept of gender justice in the context of Southern Sudan and to create a space for women and men to discuss openly the most pressing gender justice issues.
12 February 2007http://www.unifem.org/news_events/story_detail.php?StoryID=558Juba — More than 70 participants attended the first day of the Gender Justice Workshop for South Sudan, being held on 12–14 February. The workshop aims to familiarize participants with the concept of gender justice in the context of Southern Sudan, as well as to create a space for women and men to discuss openly the most pressing gender justice issues, including the range of obstacles to gender justice facing women in Sudan. Participants in the workshop come from government ministries, civil society organizations, the donor community and the media.Hon. Lieutenant General James Loro Seresio, Minister for Environment and Wildlife, stated in his opening address that the workshop is happening at the right moment in Southern Sudan because laws are being formulated and significant changes are expected to address gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) has provided policy instruments designed to protect women and girls and ensure that women's concerns are addressed. What remains to be done is translating these policy instruments into laws and implement them, he added.In his opening remarks, the Swedish Ambassador to Sudan, H.E. Steffan Tillander, stated that gender justice is a major challenge for the justice system because it entails setting up or reforming existing systems to be sensitive to women's needs and aspirations. He affirmed that without justice for all, there can be no peace, security and justice for women and girls — gender justice must be part of the rule of law and the legal system of any country. He added that adequate legislation and the empowerment and participation of women are essential to achieving the goals for gender justice. Laws are not meaningful and effective if those who practice and interpret them do not comprehend the significance of gender justice. The attitudes of men and women need to be changed and addressed. He concluded that it is the responsibility of every government to adopt strategies and policies to promote gender equality and justice in accordance with international standards, and that the international community has a responsibility to support national efforts.In her remarks, UNIFEM Regional Programme Director Ms. Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda congratulated the Government of Sudan for its key achievements towards promoting gender equality in the last two years. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan has been a key milestone in providing for the protection of women's human rights. Another key milestone has been the establishment of an institutional mechanism of governance, including the Ministry of Gender, Social Welfare and Religious Affairs; the Peace and Reconciliation Commission, which has a gender desk; the Human Rights Commission that deals with women's human rights; and the Committee on Gender, Social Welfare, Youth and Sports of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly, which has the mandate to deal with gender issues. Furthermore, issues of women's participation in peace, reconciliation and development have been addressed through the appointment of Sudanese women to key posts.In a paper titled "Gender Analysis of the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan," Hon. Agnes Nyoka, Member of Parliament, the Government of National Unity (GNU), made key recommendations on the need for the Government to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); to promote awareness of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security as well as the Millenium Development Goals; and to implement the Sudanese Women's Priorities and Recommendations delivered at the Oslo International Donors Conference on Sudan (2005). This was seconded by Dr. Sidiga Washi, who urged civil society organizations and the Government to work together to monitor follow up of the ratification of CEDAW.Acting Governor of Central Equatoria H.E. Hon. Clement Wani admitted that there are injustice and inequalities, and that much needs to be done to change cultural practices and beliefs. He thanked all the partners for organizing and participating in the workshop and added that such a dialogue is crucial in advancing women's rights and awareness.Ms. Beatrice Aber, of the Peace Commission, stated that peace is a cross-cutting issue and touches on issues of gender justice. She said that the Peace Commission was looking forward to the discussions and recommendations comming out of the deliberations at the workshop.In a paper titled "Gender Justice Issues in Government of Southern Sudan Policies," Mr. Peter Sokule, the Under Secretary General for the Ministry of Gender, Social Welfare and Religious Affairs, stated that the policies and priorities of the Ministry aim to support women's effective participation in legislative and executive positions as well as in the social and economic life of Southern Sudan; to promote research on traditional practices that impact negatively on women and recommend remedial approaches, including legislation; to develop policies on gender-based violence in collaboration with partners; and to promote women's participation in peace-building and reconciliation. He concluded that the Ministry is planning to lobby for legislation to protect women from domestic violence, and to punish those who defile children.Hon. Joy Kwaje Eluzai, Chairperson of the Southern Sudan Human Rights Commission, presented a paper on "Gender and Human Rights in the Context of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement." She stated that as much as the women of Sudan acknowledge that UN Security Council resolution 1325 is a milestone in mainstreaming gender, equality and advancement of women in conflict prevention, peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation, the feeling is that there is a need for a more vigorous engagement in its implementation for the resolution to have a meaningful impact on the lives of the numerous Southern Sudanese women emerging from the civil war. She added that, although both the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan provide for 25 per cent affirmative action as a way forward to ensure gender balance, the challenge has been inadequate implementation of the policy at all levels of government.The participants noted the impressive efforts to mainstream gender and lauded UNIFEM's efforts in the area of gender justice as part of Sudan's overaching peace and reconstruction plans.The workshop has been organized by the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitution Development; the Ministry of Gender, Social Welfare and Religious Affairs; the Peace Commission; and the Office of the Presidential Advisor for Gender and Human Rights, with financial support from the Government of Sweden and UNIFEM.