Exchanges for peace

“Exchanges provide a forum for knowledge exchange and learning of best practices that can be replicated in our country.”

We would like to refer to this South South exchange between The South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) and Héritiers de la Justice (HJ) in Nairobi as a beautiful exchange. We met members of HJ the evening we arrived from Juba. We were all so excited and greeted each other so warmly, like we had met before. It was equally exciting to see those we had met last year during COP 27. The first day of the exchange focused on context sharing by HJ on DRC and the nature of their work on Women, Peace, and Security. We had a chance to mentally conduct a comparative context analysis of both situations and everything HJ shared resonated with our context in South Sudan. We were particularly thrilled by the persistent and holistic approaches taken by HJ to respond to human rights violations perpetrated in Bukavu. The trust they have built with their beneficiaries is so incredible and gives them leverage to respond to gender-based violence. In addition, it was important to learn that HJ raises awareness on the laws of DRC, to educate, empower, and support the impact and decision make for their economic empowerment programs. This reflects the holistic approach HJ has undertaken in the Women, Peace, and Security project.

SSCC Women’s Coordinator

SSCC Advocacy Coordinator

SSCC Youth Coordinator

Meeting with HJ has been so inspiring and motivating. It is astonishing to witness how daring, courageous, and zealous the organisation is despite the unfriendly and unpredictable political environment they are in. HJ has got an executive secretary who happens to be a male ally. We were impressed by his passion to bring an end to human rights violations and fully implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda in DRC. We have observed that he has been journeying with the women and he heavily highlights the vital role women play in communities and the country. We were inspired by his leadership style and were filled with hope that he will continue to inspire other men to join the work of promoting gender equality and ending human rights violations.

This exchange has been a blessing to us in so many ways, as the South Sudan Council of Churches, and as individuals. HJ made it easy for us to visualise their work through our interactions. They also shared photos of stories of change which cemented the experience. We learned how the WPS project has changed the lives of many women in their areas of focus: economic empowerment, justice for sexual gender-based violence and female inheritance of property. We began to substitute these projects in our minds with similar activities in South Sudan since our contexts are comparable.

SSCC exchange participants
SSCC exchange participants

We have created a bond with HJ. We speak different languages, but we made these differences work. Without translators, we understand each other through smiles and body language. HJ also presented us with gifts: T-shirts and caps as souvenirs from the exchange. It’s beautiful to see how we have connected in such a short time. We believe that this connection will be sustainable for a lifetime. We have become a unit through this project and hope that as we continue with similar work, we will cross paths again and remind ourselves of the beautiful exchange we had.

Ladies of the South-South Exchange

By Arek Malek Rual Malek, Youth Coordinator; Juan Rachael Michael Roberto, Advocacy Coordinator; and Proscovia James, Women’s coordinator of SSCC.

Filed in: Gender Justice, Gender Justice/Women of Courage, Global South, WPS

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