South Sudan Launches 16-Day Campaign On Violence Against Women

The Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare (MGCSW) in the Southern Sudan government, working in partnership with various UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, have officially launched the much-hyped 16 Days of Activism on violence against women.

The annually-held global event started with the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, but will climax with the International Human Rights Day on December 10.

In a press conference held in Juba, the South Sudan capital, Margaret Mathew Mathiang, the MGCSW Undersecretary said the annual campaign advocates and lobbies for policies to be implemented to end violence against women.

Such measures, she added, could be in the form of enforcing harsher penalties to offenders against women rights.

Women in Southern Sudan reportedly account for about 60% of the entire population, which according to Sudan’s 2008 5th Population Housing Census stood at about 8.2 million.

The 16 Days of Activism, Mathiang noted, will mainly focus on raising awareness at the local, national, regional and international levels about gender-based violence, strengthening local work, providing a forum for dialogue and strategy-sharing as well as pressuring governments to implement commitments made in national and international legal instruments.

Reacting to this year’s national theme, “Eradicate the culture of militarism, fear and all forms of violence,” the MGCSW Undersecretary said there is need to address militaristic beliefs in all societies within the semi-autonomous region.

"Militarism has material and institutional, as well as cultural and psychological consequences that are more difficult to measure. Internal conflicts, which are a result of a culture of militarism, have a particular and often disproportionate impact on women,” Mathiang said.

This year’s campaign, Sudan Tribune has learnt, will target various groups nationwide, including the army, university students, women entities, the police, government and the private sector. It will involve a series of workshops, seminars and public debates.

Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary General for UN Women emphasized the importance of involving all stakeholders in the campaign to eliminate all forms of violence against women globally.

"Joining in the efforts to stop violence is everybody’s responsibility. Governments, private enterprises, civil society groups, communities and individual citizens can all make essential contributions,” Bachelet said in a press release.

She added, “Men and boys must be active in encouraging respect for women and zero tolerance for violence. Cultural and religious leaders can send clear messages about the value of a world free of violence against women.”

Last year, according to the UN Women Under-Secretary General, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women met only 3 percent of the requests it received for programmes vital to progress.

The fund reportedly has a US $100 million annual funding goal, and is given to governments, civil society groups and UN agencies at the forefront of advocacy and innovation to end violence against women and girls.

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