Gender under Bombardment
Since 2011, the people of the Nuba Mountains have borne the brunt of the fighting. The high tense relationship between the Sudanese ruling regime and the Sudan Liberation Movement at the time, which later developed into the SPLM/A-N in South Kordofan and Blue Nile has turned into a brutal armed conflict with a mass campaign of bombardment, dropping over 4,000 bombs on the region since record keeping began in 2012.
Not only have civilians died as a direct result of the bombings, but livelihoods have been severely disrupted. The bombings have increased at times of planting and harvesting, indicating that this disruption is part of a deliberate strategy on the part of the government of Sudan. The Famine Early Warning System warns that households in this region could face emergency levels of food insecurity through the 2016 dry season. In addition, civilian infrastructure including schools, medical facilities and markets have also been targeted. While this conflict has taken a tremendous toll on the population as a whole, the ways in which both it and its consequences are experienced are gendered. The toll taken by the conflict on both men and women is informed by the cultural and social constructions of gender that existed before the war, even as these necessarily shift in this period of crisis.
In her work “Gender Politics and Islamization in Sudan,” Sondra Hale comments that, “…gender is an indispensable concept in the analysis of political-cultural movements, of transition, and of social change. Itself a function of uneven development and social change—that we see the politicization of gender, the family, and the position of women.” Thus, gender is not a synonym for women, but considers both women and men and their interdependent relationships. Although reporting on the conflict in on-going, there has been little attention to producing a gendered analysis of both the conflict and its consequences on individuals, families and communities. This study is intended as a starting point for addressing this gap. The paper highlights a number of key issues, which warrant serious consideration by all actors and stakeholders, regional power brokers, and civil society groups working in and/or outside of Nuba Mountains.
This paper attempted to broadly examine the gender specific realities of life amidst conflict in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N) controlled areas of the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, with a special emphasis on the diverse voices of Nuba men and women. The paper seeks to provide critical knowledge about gender inequalities and the related roles and responsibilities of women and girls. Furthermore it serves to provide guidance in the various aid and civil society sectors and their gender equality interaction of food security, protection and peace-building, and to explore questions of access to key services and resources for women and girls with the aim of identifying elements either restricting or permitting access.