The ceremony at Nyakuron Cultural Centre in Juba was graced by the GoSS Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare Agnes Kwaje Lasuba, MDTF’s Michael Elmquist and the World Band Manager for Southern Sudan Dr Lawrence Clark.
This was a historic day for South Sudanese women as they received the first batch of the US$ 4 million the Multi-Donor Trust Fund allocated for economic empowerment of women in the semi-autonomous region.
The women were represented by 54 Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) from all the ten states of South Sudan.
From Eastern Equatoria there were five women groups as were a similar number from Western Equatoria while Central Equatoria had 11.
Jonglei State had nine, Western Bahr El Ghazal five, Lakes State three and Upper Nile six while Unity and Warrap states each had four groups and Northern Bahr el Ghazal had two.
Speaking during the ceremony, Minister Kwaje called upon the women to prove that they can be trusted by the Government of Southern Sudan, the World Bank and other donors by using the money wisely and transparently.
“My advice to the funds recipients is to invest the money on the projects which earned you the award. Never make a mistake of spending the monies on personal things. One of your goals must be your projects must grow to cover your respective Bomas”, she said.
“We in the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare have started combating poverty through agricultural and non – agricultural projects to generate income, promote food sufficiency and improve living conditions of families as part of developing rural areas”, added the Minister.
She expressed hope that the women will excel in their endeavours given the economic empowerment opportunity they had received.
“Most women, particularly those living in the rural areas, have waited for too long to get the peace dividends and more to come”, she said.
The World Bank’s Dr Clark called upon the women to keep the trust that the World Bank has in them by spending the money appropriately.
“Remember to keep your receipts, buy extra books so that you can be able to record all you spending so that we can be able to convince World Bank and all the donors to give you more money”, Dr Clark said.
“The donor community fully supports your efforts to attain development and we are proud to support you. We want to see improvement at the grassroots”, said MDTF’s Elmquist.
Most of the projects to be implemented by the women are in agriculture and livestock.