Sudan, officially known as the Republic of the Sudan, is a country situated in Northeast Africa with 12 million inhabitants. For several decades, Sudan has been in deep political crisis, which led to some of the most violent contemporary conflicts. Torn by civil-war, the country was divided in 2011 after the region that would become South Sudan voted for its independence.
A survey that was carried out in 2013 classified Sudan as one of the worst countries for women’s rights. Besides armed conflict, which have been the source of consistent women’s rights abuse, the country’s strict application of religious law limit women’s freedom in the country. From being arrested for wearing trousers or knee length dress to genital mutilation, women are constantly discriminated against and suffer from violent treatments. In addition, women’s rights violations do not only stay unpunished most of the time, but are also perpetrated by police and security forces.
Sudan has neither ratified nor acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and during the 2017 October Security Council Open Debate, Sudan did not make any specific commitments towards the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the Women Peace and Security Agenda.
In such a context, the work of WILPF Sudan Group is crucial. WILPF Sudan Group joined WILPF in order to be part of a global community which works for strengthening women’s participation within peace processes and challenging gendered power relations for promoting peace, justice and social transformation.
We met with WILPF Sudan Group to discuss their motivations and their main objectives.
What were your main motivations to become part of WILPF?
As women from a conflict affected country and severly affected by these conflicts, our interest to become an official WILPF National Group emerged from the the necessity of working within a global platform for bringing visibilty to issues affecting women in Sudan. WILPF is a one of the most influencial organisations for us to address the serious impacts of conflicts on women groups in the country and adovating for their right to participate in peace negotiations and peace building in Sudan.
What are the main objectives and aspirations of the WILPF Sudan Group for the years to come?
Our main objective is to empower the members of our National Group and build their capacity to ensure sound and effective implementation for the Group’s policies and programmes. Another objective of WILPF Sudan Group is to network with like-minded organisations at the national, regional and international level in order to achieve the Group’s mission. Furthermore, we believe that partnership with other civil society organisations plays a critical role in the continuity and success of any engagement, so one of our main objectives is to create strategic partnership with the different actors and women groups at grassroot level – in particular women in the conflict affected parts of the country. Finally we are aspiring to become a WILPF Section and establish our presence in Sudan as an effective actor advocating for women’s rights and participation in the peace process in the country.
What is your strategy to advance women’s rights and women’s participation to peace building processes in Sudan?
Firstly, our strategy is to raise awareness among Sudanese women of their rights and the critical role they could play to end violence and create lasting peace in the country. Secondly, is to build women’s capacities to claim their rights and participate in decision-making, conflict resolution and peace building. Finally, we aim at advocating women participation in peace negotiations and supporting the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Sudan.
What do you see as the main distinctive feature of the WILPF Sudan Group in the Sudanese civil society landscape?
Civil society in Sudan has a crucial role in the protection and advocacy of human rights. We foster participatory approach to mobilising and empowering key stakeholders in particular grassroot and women groups so as to building local, grassroot- and women – led peace building in Sudan.
What are the main areas of collaboration that you aim at establishing with like-minded organisations in the country or in the region?
Collaboration with like-minded organisations is essential to support the development of WILPF Sudan Group, therefore, we aim at building collaborative partnership with like-minded organisations across the country and the region for the implementation of joint projects and initiatives, training, peer learning, knowledge sharing and experience exchange.
How can support and coordination with the rest of the WILPF community help you in achieving your objectives?
Working as a part of the WIPF community provides the organisational background and guidelines for our Group to grow, further the coordination and cooperation with the WILPF community and help our Group to overcome many difficulties and obstacles. In addition to this, the continuous advice and support we get from our sisters, peer learning, sharing knowledge and success stories will help us in achieving our goals and ensure that Sudanese women claim their rights.