On 9 July 2012, South Sudan marked its first anniversary after its declaration of independence in 2011 from Sudan. However, both internal and external strife and insecurity have challenged its first year and the hoped stability has not yet reached the young nation. Dispute between South Sudan and Sudan continues on the sharing of profits from oil production and the status of the Abyei region.
While South Sudan relies on oil for 98% of its government revenue[i], disputes regarding the transportation and share of oil revenues with Sudan continue to linger and poison relationships between the two countries. Tensions mounted and conflict was close to resuming in April this year as talks to achieve an agreement had failed.
A referendum on the status of the Abyei region, which was scheduled to take place in July 2012, has now been postponed to an indefinite date. On 14 July, Presidents from Sudan and South Sudan met on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa and announced their agreement to hold a referendum on the area[ii]. However, both sides concede on the difficulty of defining voter eligibility[iii] and no new date has yet been set.
The situation of women in South Sudan has not changed drastically since independence. Women continue to face threats to their security, including sexual and domestic violence, early and forced marriages, female genital mutilation (FGM) and lack of access to health care services.
Literacy rate remains extremely low (16%) for women in South Sudan compared to 40% for men. Lack of access to education and schooling due notably to early marriages, pregnancies and domestic trafficking, prevents them from participating actively in the economic and political life of their country. They lack representation in decision-making positions and, although enshrined in the constitution, traditional practices, continue to discriminate against women, notably in terms of inheritance of land and access to education.