South Sudanese Women Call for their Full Engagement in the Development Planning for South Sudan

Date: 13 Dec 2011

UN Women Press Release
For immediate release

Media Contact: Oisika Chakrabarti, Media Specialist, oisika.chakrabarti[at]unwomen.org, +1 646 781-4522.

UN Women and the Institute for Inclusive Society host Gender Symposium to put forward policy recommendations ahead of International Engagement Conference

On the eve of the first international meeting on the future of South Sudan, women leaders from the world's newest nation today put forth concrete policy recommendations on development, security and governance priorities for their country. These recommendations were developed at the Gender Symposium co-hosted by The Institute for Inclusive Security and UN Women, where South Sudanese women leaders from the government and civil society deliberated on development issues central to women's lives.

The recommendations will contribute directly to the discussions at the South Sudan International Engagement Conference (IEC) starting tomorrow in Washington DC, which will focus global attention on the post-separation priorities of South Sudan. It will shape the South Sudan Development Plan, the foundation and primary source of the country's social, economic, and political policies.

The South Sudan International Engagement Conference will encourage private sector investors and development aid donors to enter into a new relationship with South Sudan — as partners for peace and development.

“This is a vital opportunity to ensure that the next few years of stabilization bring opportunities, and don't reinforce or create new types of exclusion, said Sarah James, Chairperson of the South Sudan Women's General Association.

In other countries where war has ended, post conflict recovery and private sector development have most often returned power and economic opportunities to male elites. The Gender Symposium made a wide range of recommendations to ensure this does not happen in South Sudan. Their recommendations covered the major topics of the IEC: human capacity development, basic social service delivery, governance, private sector engagement, petroleum revenue management, physical infrastructure, and mobilizing aid in support of South Sudan.

During the symposium's deliberations women stressed that investment in South Sudan's future requires investments in women's capacities as workers, citizens, and members of families and communities. Although women made over 40 specific recommendations they highlighted four proposed initiatives as immediate priorities:

  • Establish a Women's Bank with start-up capital of a minimum of USD 10 million, providing women with accessible low interest loans and substituting social for physical collateral.
  • Require 25 percent of all investment in agriculture to target and increase women's rate of crop production and ensure their access to markets.
  • Ensure half of the resources in the Community Development Funds (financed through a share of oil revenues) is allocated to women's health, education, economic and physical security.
  • Enable each state to double adult women's functional literacy (from current levels of 12 percent to approximately 25 percent nationally).

Women in South Sudan have always been integral to the development of their country. During the civil war, women continually came together across borders to advocate for peace and played a critical role as agents of change. The Gender Symposium has been an opportunity for South Sudanese women leaders to leverage their vast experience and skills, and contribute concrete recommendations which can shape the development of their new nation.

“Women played such a central role during our long liberation struggle — we fought, we held together communities, policymaker Honourable Angelina Tenny said. She added: “We have a lot to offer. Women have invested everything they have in South Sudan's independence. We are setting the agenda and defining women's role in nation building, peace and development. We must invest in women, for peace and development.