“The Women of South Sudan are anxious and desperate for Peace Agreement to Hold”

Date: Friday, October 12, 2018

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of  UN Women and  Co-Chair of the AU Network of Women Mediators (FemWise) Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe during the mission. Photo: UN Women Ethiopia
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of  UN Women and  Co-Chair of the AU Network of Women Mediators (FemWise) Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe during the mission. Photo: UN Women Ethiopia

During the UN-AU joint briefing held in Addis Ababa on 10 October 2018, the UN Women USG and Executive Director, Dr.  Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka presented the requests of the women of South Sudan to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) called upon all concerned parties, to seriously consider the plea of the women, as “they found themselves caught up in a futile man’s war in which they are victims of sexual assaults from all sides, their families killed and their loverhood destroyed”.

She further underlined that the women of South Sudan are optimistic, and they want their leaders to address them directly, so that they can feel their commitment that indeed the revitalized agreement will turn their lives into a new chapter. According to the Executive Director, the increased participation of women in the constitutional revision is a priority, as they don’t want to be left behind and essential decisions are made which will come to haunt them later on.

In a joint press briefing that followed, the Executive Director told journalists on the importance of the joint engagement in terms of support to the people of South Sudan. The fact that the key partners, AU Peace and Security Commission, the PANWISE/FEMWISE, the UNDPKO and indeed the UN Women all came together in solidarity and visited the women at the community level, was a commendable step of ensuring women’s participation in mediation at grassroot level – which is essential to avoid escalation into potential conflicts in the future. The Executive Director said, “It was encouraging that the women of South Sudan are anxious about the process and they desperately want this peace agreement to work. They are also willing to give everything they can to make it work”.

She further underlined “They want concrete assurances from us and steps that must assist the process to move forward. They are calling to see more women in the decision making and all organs of the government, as they are committing themselves to play an active role in the security reform, as the male dominated army tend to bring the traditional toxic masculinity”.

The Executive Director further expressed that “We are committed to help them to provide database of South Sudanese women, who have both the interest and the relevant skills and capacities that are required for them to move forward. We can’t miss that opportunity, we don’t want anyone to say, “we can’t find the women” because they exist, and we need to present them and make them visible”.

Recalling a study that concluded that peace has a possibility to be more durable and deep if women are involved in all aspects of peace making, the Executive Director reiterated, “Women are the drivers of the reconciliation, they are the ones who orientate the new generation, and they tend to pay attention to the greater need of society, such as the building of schools and agriculture”. 

The UN-AU joint mission to South Sudan took place from 07 09 October 2018. The African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, H.E. Amb. Smail Chergui, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Executive Director for UN Women, Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and the Co-Chair of the AU Network of Women Mediators (FemWise), Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe led the mission.