The critical engagement of women in the recent political struggle in Sudan is by no means reflected in Sudan’s high-level political dynamics or discourse. This dichotomy represents deep concerns for us at SIHA. Women need an unyielding commitment to equality and they need to see their issues reflected in any resolution for the country’s transformation, including demands such as the Declaration of Freedom and Change. For years on end women have been deemed third class citizens, yet throughout this revolution, women across Sudan have always demonstrated astounding collectivism and political salience. There should not be a discrepancy between women’s political awareness and the reflection of their issues in the reform agenda at this critical time.
In the wake of a political insurgence, it is very important to be aware that it is not business as usual any more. The past 30 years have taught generations of Sudanese women that they have to fight for themselves. For years, they have stood alone against an ideological regime that has manipulated religion and society to undermine women. Women in Sudan have been used as a tool to keep Sudanese society in line with the regime’s political ideologies. Hence, for 30 years, Sudanese women became the face of suffering and the target of violence, criminalization and accrued stigma.
At SIHA, we are aware that there are no miracle solutions for women to gain their equal status in Sudan. We are also fully aware that women’s equality and access to justice are deeply connected to their community’s peace, access to justice and stability. Millions of women and girls in war-zones have suffered through layers of persecution and violence, and their challenges are linked to the legitimate grievances of their communities, which must be addressed.
Against this background, SIHA puts forward the following recommendations:
- Women political activists and more importantly the gender equality agenda must be a fundamental part of the transition process. We stress that to select women randomly and present them as accessories of the political transition will not be acceptable. Women’s involvement in the transition cannot be mere window dressing. This means that women must be involved in numbers equivalent to men, and must be given platforms from which to share their concerns.
- Critically, Sudan’s upcoming government should prioritize a fundamental legal reform of Sudan’s Criminal Act which at present is designed to incriminate women, degrade their dignity and put their lives at risk. Sudan should develop a family law that is based on women and children’s dignity and human rights against the current law that is completely based on the commodification of women and, greatly undermines the concept of family.
- It is integral that Sudan’s upcoming government and political parties should sign, ratify and domesticate the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
- Sudan must also ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).
- The adoption and reflection of commitment to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) should be prioritized whilst developing policies that seek to protect women and equally include them in political processes particularly in conflict areas. A National Action Plan in this adoption process must be instituted preceded by collective representatives of government and non-governmental actors.
- SIHA finally asserts that the new government should lift and abolish all discriminatory laws and policies that undermine women and girls, cement equal citizenship rights and enable women’s access to resources equally.