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International Women’s Day 2022: UN coordinator lauds ‘courage and perseverance’ of Sudan’s women

March 8 - 2022 KHARTOUM
Women from Assungaat the Sudan-Chad border perform a traditional dance on a previous International Women’s Day (File photo: Hamid Abdelsalam / UNAMID)
Women from Assungaat the Sudan-Chad border perform a traditional dance on a previous International Women’s Day (File photo: Hamid Abdelsalam / UNAMID)

As demonstrations took to the streets across Sudan today to mark International Women’s Day*, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan has acknowledged “the critical roles that Sudanese women and girls continue to play to shape a brighter future,” saying that “their courage and perseverance give us hope and added determination in pursuing our path to work even harder to empower them”.

Mass demonstrations organised by women’s organisations and supported by the local resistance committees are currently underway in cities across Sudan. In a statement from Khartoum today, Mandeep O’Brien, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, points out that on the International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022, we celebrate the power and potential of women and girls around the world.

On the theme of IWD 2022, ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow‘, O’Brien commends the achievements and progress made in addressing gender issues, “because without equality, we cannot achieve a sustainable or equitable future. We therefore urge the authorities to increase investment in the education and empowerment of women and girls. Their important participation and inclusion in social, political, and economic life, has the power to lift communities…”

‘Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach…’

“We must continue to promote and protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms. This year’s theme of International Women’s Day also reminds us that women and girls are the most affected by climate change.”

Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach, the OCHA head says. Despite their significant roles in natural resource management, women and girls have also generally been marginalised economically and politically, particularly those in the remote rural areas of Sudan.

‘The empowerment and education of women and girls is a smart investment; it is essential for sustainable development, healthier households, and greater gender equality…’

“Women and girls are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation. Their participation and leadership results in more effective climate action,” O’Brien says. “The empowerment and education of women and girls is a smart investment; it is essential for sustainable development, healthier households, and greater gender equality,” O’Brien concludes.

IWD 2022 street art by @___snaps

 

Commenting on IWD via social media, Norwegian Ambassador Therese Løken Gheziel tweeted: “So difficult times globally & in Sudan. We continue 2 work hard for women’s rights & equal opportunities for all as this will strengthen institutions, secure political participation & sustainable economy to safeguard democracy. In any country.”

The UN World Food Programme in Sudan tweeted: Empowering women and gender equality is a must for a world of #ZeroHunger. Half of the people @WFP serves in Sudan are women and girls. We are committed to provide equal access and opportunities.”

Women in Sudan

While Sudanese women continue to be disproportionately affected by violence in its various forms in the country, they have also been at the forefront of the revolution, demanding justice and peace.

News outlets estimated that about 70 per cent of the protesters during the 2018 December Revolution that overthrew to 30-year Al Bashir regime were women, making them visible leaders on the frontlines of the revolution.

Since the fall of the former regime, the death penalty for apostasy has been repealed. Female Genital-Mutilation (FGM) has been outlawed and the execution of children has been banned. Women no longer need the consent of their husband or male guardian to travel with their children.

The Constitutional Document of August 2019 guarantees 40 per cent representation to women in the 300-seat Legislative Council, still to be formed. The new quota is an increase from the previous representation quota of 25 per cent, which was set during the former regime.

Yet, Sudanese women remain on the side-lines. Only 12 per cent of the Juba Peace Agreement table included women. Women’s rights groups in Darfur and Khartoum continue to call for a broader representation in the new transitional government and in all aspects of Sudanese life.

A joint statement signed on Monday by the Ambassadors and Heads of Mission to Sudan of Canada, Norway, Spain, France, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, United States of America, the Netherlands, and the European Union, laments that the October 25 military coup has stalled, and in some cases reversed the progress made following the December 2018 uprising (that culminated in the overthrow of the 30-year Omar Al Bashir dictatorship in April 2019).

“Following the December 2018 uprising, Sudan took some important steps in improving human rights protection… oppressive Public Order laws were abolished, Female Genital Mutilation was criminalised, and the Transitional Government ratified UN conventions against torture and enforced disappearance,” however they decry that “the military takeover of 25 October 2021 stalled, and in some cases, reversed that progress…’


* International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group, or organisation specific.

#IWD2022 #BreakTheBias #InternationalWomensDay


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