14 male commissioners: A proposal to rename Jonglei state to a “Sexist State”

Posted: September 24, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Amer Mayen, Columnists, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Amer Mayen Dhieu, Brisbane, Australia

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September 24, 2016 (SSB) —- Sexism- the very so offensive notion that emotionally, logically and practically explain the way states and non-nation states see and perceive women. Jonglei state, the previous largest state in the Upper Nile region which has recently been subdivided into four mini-states, one of which has been allocated to the four sub- sections of the Dinka community—the Bor Dinka, the Twic Dinka, the Nyarweng Dinka and the Hol Dinka.

These sub-sections of Dinka are well known for decency, open-mindedness and the respect toward their women and children. Many old and young men of these sections have suffered and died in many wars in the name of protecting their women, children and elderly. These and many others portray their determination to see their women live in absolute freedom, free of rape, killings and many other insecurities. However, this does not mean that they have done enough to promote the welfare and dignity of women in Jonglei state.

In my opinion, there are many things that women need to live a full, free and fair lifestyle. And that is not only by giving them food to eat or security for their children but also by empowering them to fully participate in societal decision-making processes, be it at the family, state or national level. This is to say let’s educate women who are yet to be educated and promote those who are educated to the kind of positions at the Boma, Payam or State levels where they would be seen and perceived as role models to the upcoming young girls and ladies, the aspiring future leaders in our community.

Just yesterday, the state hosted the first ever swearing in ceremony of commissioners in charge of fourteen counties. Unsurprisingly, none was a female; all of them were males. In my mind, this act by Governor Philip Aguer prompted a previous question raised about a week ago when a young woman wondered as to why women of Jonglei state are not allowed to inherit their husbands’ positions rather than their sons? This question is yet to be answered since it is well known in the history of Dinka chiefdom that a chief of a clan must be a son of the previous chief and has never been a wife or a daughter of the previous chief.

Does this mean that women of Jonglei state, unlike women in other states, are of less intelligence when it comes to communal leadership? Does that mean women are yet to be considered as fully mentally-developed humans who are capable of generating ideas that can help shape the nation? If you ask these questions, the responses would be “this has and will always be our way of life.” Is this response convincing enough? If it is convincing to the general population based on our cultural perspectives, is it acceptable and appropriate to the 21st century we are living in?

Globally, a woman would be expected to know how to bring food to the table, how to critically think when family is severely affected by the environment around them as well as how to raise and prepare kids for the future. A woman is expected to participate in nation building as far as her brain, education, skills and work experience can allow her.

Our women of Jonglei state, particularly the young ones, have put on their sandals so tightly in an attempt to at least bring the wide gender gap to a reasonable and tolerably state. Some of these women have bachelor, masters and even PhD, and have developed personally and academically. They are qualified to work at the global stage where one is known by her profession, not by her gender. However, in a Jonglei state where male chauvinism reign large and wide, there is no chance for women, educated or not, to be appointed a commissioner even when the constitution is very unequivocal on the 30% quota.

Is the 21st century, characterized by rapid globalisation, going to forgive us with the way we have consigned our women to the kitchen? Are we seeing ourselves joining the global community where all persons are participants in the economic prosperity and socio-political progress of their respective countries?

Do not get me wrong. You do not have to be in leadership position to bring transformational changes. You do not have to be a chief to help your community. But you can be anyone to change misguided perspectives that wittingly put women at disadvantage are challenged and fought against. Women are behind in most nation-states of Africa. Many lack motivations and are shy and afraid to take oath and challenge the status quo. This is because they have accepted the way community has been conditioning and stereotyping them.

Apparently, for our menfolk, they perceive it as something acceptable, with no dire impact on them and generations to come. Having women as commissioners in Jonglei state engender positive competitiveness among women as well as boost their ego and self-esteem against male chauvinists. It also portrays the acceptance and willingness of the general public to believe and trust in the ability and competence of women in societal leadership.

If it is indeed just as it is reflected on yesterday selection of commissioners and that ongoing selection of the chiefs in all clans are supposed to be men, then let it be that Jonglei state to be renamed as Sexist State. Simply, it is a state that discriminate against women by biasedly offering public opportunities not on the platform of experience and qualification, but by gender.

It is high and appropriate time to challenge indirect sexism in Jonglei state. It is also a great time to show appreciation to the already informed women who have given up all that society wants them to be in order to bring change and new ways to view and judge what women are capable of and for.

Amer Mayen Dhieu, the co-founder and executive director for the Twic East Girls Scholarship Program (TEGSP), received her Bachelor of Social Science degree, majoring in Psychology and Human Services, from the Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Queensland, and her Masters of International Relations, majoring in International Security and Human Rights, from Griffith University in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. You can reach her via          Mayen Dhieu <mayendhieu90@gmail.com>

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.

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