Grassroots women’s informal peace efforts in South Sudan #16StoriesofCourage
Although religion and faith are important parts of the daily lives of much of the world’s population, their links with the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda are not often discussed, particularly in terms of opportunities.
In South Sudan, the South Sudan Council of Churches’ National Women’s Programme (NWP) is bringing together women, from across different religious denominations and ethnicities, to engage with religious actors, communities and institutions to further the WPS agenda.
While churches and religious institutions, reinforced by existing patriarchy, have had harmful effects on women and their participation in public life, the NWP is combining women’s human rights interventions aimed at enhancing the position of women, with messages of peace and hope.
A recent report from the SSCC National Women’s Programme states: “There are many testimonies and stories of change from women that attend our monthly prayers and other Women, Peace and Security activities, that they are experiencing positive changes in their lives. Some of them are able to organize and conduct activities for women and youth in their respective churches and communities. The monthly prayers give space to women to share some economic, social, and governance experiences that help to empower themselves. Our capacity building activities are also making changes in women’s lives. Those who have participated are gaining the courage to speak in public, have become a voice in their families, some are able to influence male allies – including pastors from the churches, and many have the courage to speak in the media regarding our campaign for peace and justice. The NWP’s recommendations are helping to address the persistent underutilization of women’s vast skills to support durable peace in South Sudan.”
Margaret Wasaba, a participant in the program and local peacebuilder shares the following testimony: “We support women empowerment, through workshops and different trainings, such as human and women’s rights, trauma healing, forgiveness and reconciliation and teaching about GBV (gender-based violence) and women’s peace and security. With everything that we have done, there really has been great change. We give the message of hope for the future. Peace is going to be there. “
Support the call to the Canadian government for: Targeted, flexible funding to grassroots women-led initiatives to strengthen connections and relationships at the local and national levels, enabling conflict-affected countries to be responsive at key moments in pre, ongoing and post-conflict stages.
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