By Mavic Cabrera Balleza
“The voices of rural women need to be heard in this 1325 National Action Planning process. We need to make sure that their voices are heard because they are the ones who suffer in the conflict. They will also be the implementors of the NAP.’” Veronica Anni Michael from Self Help Women Development , a women’s organization based in the West Equatorial state commented emphatically during the first national conference on South Sudan’s NAP on the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security held in Juba, South Sudan from January 29-31, 2013.
The Joint Donor Team for South Sudan in collaboration with Eve Organization for Women Development, the Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare, and UN Women organized the NAP UNSCR 1325 conference. The conference participants representing national and state level CSOs, government ministries and UN agencies identified the pillars of the NAP namely, participation, protection, prevention and relief and recovery as well as the priority issues under each pillar. Sexual and gender-based violence, access to justice, access to education and women’s political participation particularly in constitution building were some of the issues identified. The importance of the participation of rural women and traditional leaders was also highlighted throughout the conference.
Another key point in the discussion is the need to guarantee financing for the NAP implementation and the need to link NAP financing to the “New Deal,” the new aid architecture for post-conflict countries or fragile states. The session on Integrating UNSCR 1325 and NAP into the New Deal Implementation was presented by Dewi Suralaga of Cordaid. At the moment, South Sudan’s NAP process does not have a budgetary allocation. To address this situation, the National Steering Committee for the NAP will explore the formation of an International Consortium composed of donors, international CSOs and UN agencies that will generate quick financial, technical and other forms of support. For the longer term, other financing modalities such as the Multistakeholders Financing Mechanism will be considered.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Betty Achan Ogwaro and Deputy Minister of Gender and Social Welfare Priscilla Nyanyang Joseph, were two of the high-level officials who attended the national conference. Minister Ogwaro highlighted the role of women’s organizations like Eve and GNWP in tirelessly lobbying for the implementation of UNSCR 1325.
Following the NAP 1325 national conference, South Sudanese CSOs participated in a NAP strategy session facilitated by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP). The CSO strategy session allowed the South Sudanese CSOs to discuss and reflect on their participation in the NAP process. They came up with additional issues they want reflected in South Sudan’s NAP 1325 and 1820 such as protection for peace activists and women human rights defenders; and the need to integrate implementation of women’s rights treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and other human rights norms into the NAP 1325. A key output at the CSO strategy session on the NAP 1325 was the CSO Statement that will be presented to the National Steering Committee on the NAP 1325. The statement outlines CSO contributions to the NAP process and calls for an increase in the number of CSO representatives to the National Steering Committee. Currently, there is only one CSO representative out of the 24 members of the National Steering Committee.
The Addis Cooperation Agreement and the NAP 1325 and 1820
The CSO Strategy Session also included a discussion on the Addis Cooperation Agreement between South Sudan and the Sudan. There is a strong link between the NAP and the Addis Cooperation Agreement because women’s participation in peace negotiations such as the Addis negotiations is a key pillar of the NAP 1325. There are no women members in the peace negotiation panels in Addis. Moreover, there is an overarching concern that majority of South Sudanese are not aware or do not understand the agreements. The staff of the Institute for Inclusive Security and a member of the Women Leaders’ Network served as resource persons in the discussion on the Addis Cooperation Agreement.
Ratification of CEDAW in South Sudan
The South Sudan CSO Working Group on 1325 also held a consultative discussion to develop an advocacy strategy for the ratification of CEDAW in South Sudan. They agreed on the following next steps: integrate CEDAW in their respective organizations’ capacity building initiatives; build partnership with the South Sudan Women Lawyers’ Association, Constitutional Review Commission, Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Gender, National Human Rights Commission among others. Please see blog on CEDAW in South Sudan.
Arabic version of South Sudan civil society monitoring of 1325 launched
The South Sudan civil society 1325 monitoring committee led by Eve Organization for Women Development in partnership with GNWP launched the Arabic version of South Sudan civil society monitoring of 1325 during the first national conference on South Sudan’s NAP 1325. The Arabic version was welcomed by all the conference participants as an important tool in raising awareness of the resolution. “This is a very useful document. Arabic is the language that rural women in South Sudan speak, “ said Zeinab Yussin Hagelsafi, an officer from the South Sudan Land Commission.
The CSO Strategy Session, the translation and printing of the Arabic version of South Sudan civil society monitoring of 1325 and the consultative discussion on CEDAW were facilitated by the Gobal Network of Women Peacebuiders with support from Cordaid, ICCO, the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.