June 27 – 29, 2012; South Sudan Hotel, Juba
By Selamawit Tesfaye
Operation 1325 of Sweden and the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders in partnership with the Eve Foundation co-facilitated the workshop on 1325 National Action planning in South Sudan among civil society organizations and some government representatives from June 27-29, 2012. The training workshop was opened by her Excellency Hon. Dr Betty Achan Ogwaro, National Minister for Agriculture and Forestry. She welcomed all the participants and acknowledged that the training workshop is a timely endeavor in light of the situation of women in South Sudan. Participants comprised of mainly CSO representatives but there were also some from the government and other sectors such as the Juba University.
The training started with the basic introduction on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 which was warmly received by almost all participants because even if most of them were already involved in work related on the issue of women peace and security they didn’t have any knowledge of the existence and content of the women peace and security resolutions. In fact, most of them were surprised at the existence of such a detailed legal framework for the inclusion of women’s issues in the area of peace and security.
In the discussions that ensued, participants were given the topic The role of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan and asked to do a mock Focus Group Discussion (FGD) on the issue. Most of them reflected their dissatisfaction and how they are there to create jobs rather than creating peace. They also pointed out that the Mission does not engage with the Civil Society within the country and cited an incident where women mobilized and went to talk to the peacekeepers but were not allowed to even enter the compound to have the necessary discussion with the relevant authorities. “Peacekeeping? What peace are they keeping?”, was a common sentiment expressed among most of the participants in the FGDs.
Another important development that came out of this training workshop was the proposal to form a CSO Steering Committee that will undertake the necessary steps for the South Sudan 1325 NAP process which will be coordinated by EVE Foundation. On the other hand, there will also be a NAP 1325 Steering Committee or Consortium composed of the Peace Commission; the Ministry of Gender; CSOs; donors; and UN agencies. The Hon. Minister of Agriculture Betty Ogwaro was requested to serve as Convener of the Steering Committee/Consortium. The Ministry of Gender will be requested to serve as the Secretariat. Then, a Training of Trainers (TOT) will be conducted to increase the level of awareness on the resolutions in South Sudan as well as to close the capacity gap on the issue. Consultations are also planned at a national level to get the required information for the drafting of the NAP and then have it validated and approved.
For now all the parties have identified the steps and are willing to work together on having a NAP adopted for South Sudan. Their dedication and willingness to get engaged on the issue was very touching and inspiring. Let’s hope that a NAP for South Sudan becomes a reality very soon as it will be a groundbreaking initiative in the current peace and reconstruction processes in the country.