UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet’s Message to the Women of South Sudan on the Occasion of the Country’s Independence

Date : 29 July 2011

UN Women's Executive Director Michele Bachelet welcomes the addition of South Sudan as the United Nation's 193rd Member State. South Sudanese women played a critical role in independence as leaders in the country's long struggle for self-determination, by registering and voting in large numbers in the peaceful January referendum and playing an influential role in the process of transition towards independence.

UN Women supported South Sudanese women's engagement in this political process and encouraged South Sudanese men, civil society and politicians to support women to vote and stand as candidates in the 2010 elections. The results are encouraging with 33 percent elected female members in the South Sudan Parliament.

As the country now embarks on the process of state-building, women in South Sudan must continue to be involved in all aspects of constitutional, legal and political reform. This democratic transition presents a new and unprecedented opportunity to strengthen women's leadership, empowerment and rights — and South Sudan could serve as a shining example to other countries undergoing transition.

Women and girls will no doubt play a key role in the sustainable development of South Sudan and it is critical that they benefit equally from economic opportunities, political decision-making, education and public services. The UN family and other international partners must fully support the women of South Sudan to be equal partners in building their nation and ensure that their new state provides equitable political, economic and social benefits to all its citizens, both men and women.