Background: The independence of South Sudan on the 9th of July 2011 marked both the end of a long history of struggle and the beginning of a period of extraordinary political and socio-cultural tumult. After two decades of war, the country has since December 2013 descended into civil war, characterized by brutal violence and large scale displacement. Over the past half century, the women of South Sudan have carried the burden of violent conflict and the accompanying disintegration of their communities, as well as endured the agony of displacement and life in refugee camps. In such a context of prolonged war and militarization, the transformation of gender norms and the normalization of violence have translated into rising levels of sexual violence against women and girls, which remain a major threat to their wellbeing. In 2011 a Transitional Constitution was enforced, which highlighted the role of both, traditional law and customs. Customary law, relating to the inter-connected issues of dowry, domestic violence and divorce, and violence against women can in practice result to imprisonment and oppression of women’s rights. In January 2013 South Sudan signed the African Protocol on the Rights of Women, but has to date not yet ratified it. In 2014 South Sudan’s National Legislative Assembly ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Our work in South Sudan:
Strengthen and Increase Capacity to protect Women’s Human Rights through working with Youth
In South Sudan SIHAs main focus is to strengthen youth and local civil society’s capacity to promote and protect human rights and aims to bolster protection and responses to human rights violations against women. Key activities have focused on women civil society capacity building and the engagement of paralegals and community mediators capable of extending support to women victims and connecting them to women empowerment groups in instances of potential rights violations. Further SIHA organized a series of community sensitization trainings and activities with a view to not only responding to violations of women’s human rights but preventing them from occurring via education and broadening of the community understandings of the human rights framework. Those included, ‘Do no Harm’ Trainings, and workshops with tribal chiefs, trainings of paralegals and monitoring of the situation in IDP camps.
Challenging Customary Law, SGBV and Human Rights Violations and working with Women Prisoners
SIHAs project “Engaging Youth: Promoting Human Rights, Reproductive Health and Combating Sexual Violence” in South Sudan, aims to empower youth by creating youth groups to engage on critical issues, such as violence against women and reproductive health. Of particular importance is the creation of Prison Monitoring and Activation of the Bail Fund, aiming to support women, who have been imprisoned under convictions of statutory law.
Peaceful Coexistence, Community Awareness Raising and Empowering marginalized Women in (Post-) Conflict Settings
Women venders association Juba
Additionally SIHA focuses on empowering marginalized women, where in cooperation with NSWF training was conducted. “Women economic participation in post-conflict Sudan; concealed and revealed.” Aimed at bringing together leaders of women street vendors associations to facilitate training sessions and improve organisational and business capacity and to discuss issues affecting their daily lives as women street vendors in South Sudan
Building local community based networks to address Sexual gender based violence and provide sexual and reproductive health services
In this project SIHA is working to establish community based networks to address the high prevalence of sexual violence and to train community based organizations and professionals to coordinate services and referral pathways to support the survivors of SGBV. The project will work to create a survivors centered approach and will invest in enhancing and establishing sexual valance survivors support groups to be part of the networks.
Partner Organizations and Locations of Work:
SIHA has a long knowledge of over 10 years working in South Sudan, mostly Western Bahr El Ghazal, Lake States and Juba. We have closely collaborated with our member organizations such as South Sudan Women General Association, Alma Awach Girl Child Empowerment, Development Initiatives, Women and Leadership Association, John Garang Cultural Center, Women Enhancing Peace & Development , Sawa Sawa Women Development Peace Society, Mama Teresa’s Educational Center, Women Organisation for Food Basket, Women Development Group, Sudan Domestic Election Monitoring and Observation Program- (SUDEMOP), Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections (SUNDE), Women’s Training and Promotion (WOTAP), New Sudan Women Federation (NSWF), Diar for Rehabilitation and Development Association (DRDA). Additionally we have a country office in Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal.
“Falling through the Cracks” critically reflects on customary law and the imprisonment of women in South Sudan and addresses traditions, practices and views related to dowry, domestic violence, divorce and adultery that perpetuate prejudice policies and the violation of women’s rights in South Sudan.
“SIHA Community Activism Guide” provides analyses of the significant challenges to community activism encountering women organizations working on human rights in South Sudan.
“Theatre for Change”
A theatre workshop enabled women from different ages and backgrounds, still under the effect of war and its consequences, to transform their non-verbal memory into performativity expression, setting out on a path to recovery, a path to self-esteem, and dignity.
Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa- Country Profile South Sudan