#IWD2020: What does it take to be a woman in South Sudan?

  • 4 out of 10 women experience violence
  • Majority of the displaced are women, girls, and children
  • Girls and women endure multiple forms of sexual and gender-based violence

The odds, obviously, are up against South Sudanese women and girls. Ajok, a health worker, shares that, “Traditionally, women belong to the lowest rung in the community. People, especially men, think we are only good for housekeeping and producing children.” She did not allow herself to be sunk by tradition. She used her skills to improve health practices in her own community.

For a price of 20 cows, Sunday was forced to marry a 50-year old man when she was 12. Her horror did not stop there. When she cannot bear him a child, she was shared with four of his sons. Not even her family can protect her from the horrific abuse she endured for years until the World Vision protection team learned of her plight. Sunday realized, with a little help from caring people around her, that she has the power to recover and look forward to a bright future.

She was abducted and turned into a child soldier, raped, got pregnant and became a young mother of a child with a disability. What fate can be worse than this for a girl? But instead of wallowing in pain and misery, Rose chose to rise and fight for her future. “I am not ashamed”, declares Rose with conviction. Of the 988 child soldiers released and supported by World Vision, UNICEF and partners, 343 are girls.

A World Vision case study confirmed that the majority of the victims of sexual violence are girls. Indeed, the odds are stacked high for these women and girls. The recent UN report highlighted that over half a million women in South Sudan are malnourished. It further states, Only 20 percent of at-risk women and girls have access to services related to gender-based violence.”

“The International Women’s Day is a time to uphold women’s rights and celebrate achievements as we push for gender equality. An equal world is an enabled world. Each one of us can help create this world equal for women and men, and make an impact through our individual actions, attitude, behaviors, and mindsets”, says World Vision’s Operations Director Madeleine Bilonda.

Indeed, this is the time to step up, rise and mobilize our forces together for the long-overdue changes to happen - improving the plight of South Sudanese women and girls, whether they are in the country or seeking refuge in neighboring countries. The time is high to stop losing the generation of women and girls to violence, hunger, and debilitating poverty.

“This day for women, what do I wish? A lot. My wish is for their roles in society, at home, in schools, workplaces and everywhere appreciated; that there will be no more gender-based violence but only respect and equal opportunities; that there will be more women in leadership and their needs are met. Let it be that Women’s Day turns from once-a-year to a daily celebration”, says World Vision Country Programme Director Mesfin Loha.

Watch video: Women boost food security in South Sudan

For more information and media interviews, please contact: Communications Manager Cecil Laguardia I email: cecil_laguardia@wvi.org I mobile: +211922287768