Women in the Jonglei region want the opportunity to play a greater role in resolving ongoing violence and building sustainable peace in South Sudan.
Speaking at a one-day forum in Bor, organized by the Gender Affairs unit of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the women urged warring parties to end the conflict which has taken a huge toll on women and children across the country.
The forum provided an opportunity to discuss the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), which reaffirms the important role of women in preventing and resolving conflict, peace negotiations, and post-conflict reconstruction. It urges an increase in the participation of women and incorporation of gender perspectives in peace and security efforts.
Members of security forces, political, women and youth leaders participated in the forum and supported the call by the women’s group for greater participation in the peace process.
The civil war which erupted in 2013 has left the country in a dire humanitarian and economic situation with millions of people displaced either internally or having fled to neighbouring countries to escape the violence.
The chair of the Jonglei Women’s Association, Rachiel Akuach, said the war must end now so that sustainable peace and development can occur across South Sudan.
“If the war comes, we are the one who are affected. Our children are dying and our men,” she said. “So now, we want to do this, for war to end so that we can accept peace. We can join together for a better South Sudan to develop in peace.”
The leadership forum focused on building knowledge about the four pillars of UNSCR 1325, including ways that women can actively and meaningfully engage in the prevention, resolution and management of conflict.
It also brought together actors from across the community to support the recommendations of the women and their involvement in the prevention of, and response to, gender-based violence.
Speaking at the forum, Brigadier General Peter Maliet, from the local prison service appealed to his colleagues across the security sector to treat all people with dignity and respect.
“It is us (the organized forces) who are imposing the law. Societies in general all over the world are looking for peace but who is going to implement it? It is us, the organized forces. Even if someone is arrested, we (must) treat him as human, as a member of South Sudan,” he said.
UNMISS Officer in Charge in Jonglei, Isidore Boutche, said a collective effort was needed to end violence against women and girls.
“The ongoing conflict in South Sudan has taken its toll on women. Women’s groups, networks, and all stakeholders have a critical role to play in the peace process. The UN is here to support you and we do hope your contributions will set the pace for committed actions from all areas and at all levels,” she said.