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South Sudan lacks women in power, official advisor says

Ejulu Elamu
Giving women a 35 percent slice of power, as suggested by women in the ruling party, is not enough, said Rebecca Nyadeng Garang, who advises the government on gender issues.
19.04.2013  |  Juba
Rebecca Nyadeng at an open air debate on gender issues in Juba with a participant.
Rebecca Nyadeng at an open air debate on gender issues in Juba with a participant.

Speaking at an open air debate on gender issues organised by eye radio and the International Republican Institute (IRI) last month, Nyadeng said that there is a lack of women-orientated policies in a country which has one of the world’s worst maternal and infant mortality rates.

We as women cannot access enough information, partly due to illiteracy. We as a party must exert an effort provide access to information to our people,” said Nyadeng, referring to the access to information bill yet to be passed by parliament.

We as a party must exert an effort provide access to information to our people.”
Rebecca Nyadeng Garang
Experts urge more health funding directed at women, arguing for more midwives and better medicine provision at health centres.

Meanwhile, there is a need for more information about human rights among women, secretary of women parliamentarians Janet Aya said. Women do not understand their rights as per the constitution and there is need to translate the constitution into various local languages,” she said.

She said more women should participate in the budgeting process to lobby for more funds for health, aimed at reducing maternal mortality rate in the country.

Experts at the panel also demanded legal equality, stressing that laws should be strengthened to override cultural inflexibility on gender issues. Elite men tend to propagate cultural practices which work against women interests, they argued.

The country is home to diverse ethnic groups with different cultural practices and divided on the basis of nomadism and cultivators. Women activists say it is time to reform certain cultural practices that negate women’s human rights.

Women do not understand their rights as per the constitution and there is need to translate the constitution into various local languages.”
Janet Aya
The secretary general of the South Sudan Democratic Engagement Monitoring and Observation Program (SSuDEMOP) Merikaje Lona, believes that holding office and affirmative action for women does not solve glaring inequality, arguing that an equal playing field should be created for both men and women.
 
Meanwhile, experts urged more official attention on violence and abuse within marriage, a widespread issue often overlooked by officials.

Literacy rates in South Sudan also reveal a stark gender gap. An estimated 27 percent of those aged 15-years-old and above is literate: The literacy rate for males estimated at 40 percent compared to 16 percent of females according to the 2012 World Bank report on South Sudan.