Gender Equality: A Case Study of Women’s Right to Equal Participation with Men in Public Life in South Sudan  

Posted: December 6, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan, Reports

Gender Equality 

A Case Study of Women’s Right to Equal Participation with Men in Public Life in South Sudan  

By  Paul Baak Anyaar

A paper submitted for the award of Bachelor Degree of Laws in the University of Juba in the academic year 2015.


Acronyms………………………………………………………………………………………………………………    ii

Acknowledgement………………………………………………………………………………………………….      iii

Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………       iv                                                                                                                         

  • Chapter one
    • Introduction and Background………………………………………………………………. 1
    • Purpose of the study……………………………………………………………………………. 3
    • Objectives of the study ……………………………………………………………………….. 4
    • Scope of the study……………………………………………………………………………….. 4
    • Methodology and structure of chapter………………………………………………….. 4
  • Chapter Two
    • Literature Review………………………………………………………………………………… 5
    • Concept of Gender Equality…………………………………………………………………… 5
    • Understanding Gender Equality ……………………………………………………………… 6
    • South Sudan’s Commitment to Gender Equality ………………………………………… 7
    • Trends and Analysis of Women’s Representation in Public Offices……………….. 8
    • Legality of Gender Equality and provisions for Women’s Participation……………. 10
    • International policy framework Relevant to South Sudan…………………….. 12
    • Rationale for Equal Participation of women with men in Public Life……………….. 16
    • International Trends of Quota Representation…………………………………….16
    • The boon of Gender Equality in Public offices………………………………… 17
  • Chapter Three
    • Introduction to Challenges facing women’s Empowerment …………………………. 20
    • Barriers to adequate Participation of Women in Public life…………………………… 20
  • Chapter Four
    • Introduction to Policy Recommendations………………………………………………… 25
    • Increasing number and impact of women in Decision-making domains………….. 25
    • …………………………………………………………………………………………… 28


 ANC              African National Congress

CEDAW                    Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

 CPA               Comprehensive Peace Agreement

 DAW             Division for the Advancement of Women

 EGM             Expert Group Meeting

 EU                  European Union

GAD               Gender and Development

GEPA             Gender Equality in Public Administration

ICT                 Information Communication Technology

IPU                 Inter-parliamentary Union           

MDGs                        Millennium Development Goals

 SPLM/A       Sudan’s People Liberation Movement/Army

SSCS              South Sudan Council of States

SSNLA                      South Sudan National Legislative Assembly

SSWEN                     South Sudan Women Empowerment network

TCSS             Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011

UN                  United Nations       

UNDP                        United Nations Development Programme

UNSC            United Nations Security Council


The completion of this paper marks the end of a degree course in laws which I have been doing for the last six years in the University of Juba. It’s never been an easy undertaking but thanks to the persistent support from my family, relatives and friends, it’s done.

I am deeply indebted to my parents, Adeng Majak and Deng Yuot, my brother, Anyuon Anyaar and to all my sisters for their support and perseverance. You’ve been source of strength and inspiration to me.

To my great uncle, Hon. Deng Mariak, his wife, Hon. Adut Madut, and Uncle Yuot Deng. I am grateful for their outstanding moral backing and for making their purse open for me for the whole time of my studies. I am appreciative for all you sacrificed to get it done.

To my dear cousins: Deng Dhol, Kuony Ayok, Deng-manyang, Bak-aluel, Mathok Adut, Deng Mayuot, Mayuot Dotjang, Bak Jiel, Deng Chan, Bak Deng Mariak and all cousins of mine who have been supportive of me for the years I have been a student. I am grateful to all of you.

To my great friends: Gabriel Mading for his wise guidance, Nhial Barnabas for his inspirational counselling, Guido Ayiei, a great pathfinder of mine since elementary school days,  Albino Akol Thony, Peter Garang Geng, Machok Deng and all the rest of my friends and colleagues. It has been nice sharing experiences with all of you on such agonizing academic journey and I wish all of you the best in your present and future endeavours.

Finally, I am thankful to all my instructors especially Ms Kuyang Harriet, my supervisor for this research, and who has been very cooperative, resourceful and inspiring. It gladdens me to think that I have had warm relations with all my lecturers and administrators throughout my stay in the university.

And to myself, for I did my best.  I studied laws.


 Independence of South Sudan opens up opportunities for women’s economic and social empowerment, ensuring that the new country’s political and economic structures and institutions reflect commitments to women’s participation and human rights.

In turn, empowering women will enable South Sudan to strengthen its economic and political structures and institutions. There is great potential for gender equality and respect for women’s rights in South Sudan. The government has expressed commitments to equality and women’s participation. International actors interested in South Sudan recognize that promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and addressing gender-based violence are key to maintaining peace and security and helping the country’s economy grow.

However, several challenges need to be tackled.  South Sudan is severely lacking in infrastructure and has some of the worst human development indicators existing among its communities. Social and cultural practices harmful to women compounded by the effects of conflict and marginalization tend to undermine efforts for emancipation. High rate of illiteracy among women, implementation gap in policies and provisions of laws, post-conflict impacts and discriminatory division of labour are some of the challenges that bar women from equal participation in public life. There are incessant internal and external security disorders, inadequate understanding of the concept of gender equality, and a propensity to view gender as a concern for women alone, given the acute problems that South Sudan faces.

This paper highlights how the government of South Sudan, with the support of regional partners and the international community, has attempted to ensure that gender equality and women’s rights are fully integrated into and are outcomes of state building.

 Affirmative action of 25 percent has not been implemented to its fullest any level of the government of South Sudan. Women remain largely underrepresented in decision-making domains. The paper suggests some vital policy recommendations to all actors concerned with women’s empowerment in South Sudan. The paper advocates for the government to meet the full budgetary needs of the Ministry of Gender, Child, and Welfare; implement the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa; strengthen efforts to prevent GBV and address the needs of GBV victims and survivors; and invest more in quality and accessible education.

Encouraging women to seek greater involvement in the decision-making processes at all levels and to provide a systematic significant influence on decision-making processes and policy outcomes should be prioritised. This paper calls upon the active support and collaboration of a range of stakeholders, including public administrations, civil servants, women’s movements, legislators, donors, relevant United Nations agencies, civil society organizations and other partners. In this way a breakthrough in the fight against gender imbalance will be achieved.

Chapter one

  • Introduction and Background

 South Sudan, like other states, is charged with the responsibility to ensure gender equality and to take appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life and to guarantee that they enjoy equality with men in political and public life. This obligation encompasses all areas of public and political life[1]. This is one important way to achieve gender equality. On the one hand, gender equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men. Equality does not however, mean that women and men will become necessarily the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, while recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men. Gender equality should not be seen as a women’s issue but rather as an issue the concerns both men and women because equality between the two sexes is deemed as both a human rights issue and as a precondition for sustainable development.[2]

On the other hand, the political and public life of a country is a broad concept. It entails having to exercise political power specifically the exercise of legislative, judicial, executive and administrative powers. The concept also encompasses all aspects of public administration and the formulation and implementation of policy at the international, national, regional and local levels. The concept also includes many aspects of civil society, including public boards and local councils and the activities of organizations such as political parties, trade unions, professional or industry associations, women’s organizations, community-based organizations and other organizations concerned with public and political life.[3]

In South Sudan women make up over 60% of the population.[4] This is a direct result of years of conflict which has not only deprived women of their husbands and sons, but also advanced discriminatory cultural practices and abject poverty which have continued to undermine the promotion of equal rights and the ability for women to actively participate equally with men in public life.  Over 90% of women in South Sudan are illiterate although the number of girls enrolled in school has increased over the last few years since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA*) in 2005. The percentage of girls at school compared to boys remains at around 37% at primary school level and severely declines for education beyond this level. There is inexistence of the rule of law* and majority of cases are dealt with using customary law which unavoidably discriminates women and the minorities.[5]

 Inter-ethnic conflicts continue to plague South Sudan since independence continues to suffer from with women and children being the most victims of these clashes. The government has shown its commitment to gender equality and in an attempt to address some of these challenges, women have been accorded equal status in the law.  The Transitional Constitution which was approved shortly before independence also guarantees equality between men and women. Article 16 deals with rights of women in its entirety, providing for equal participation of women with men in public life and obligates all levels of the government in South Sudan to promote women´s participation in public life and their representation in the legislative and executive organs by at least 25% as an affirmative action to redress imbalances created by history, customs and traditions[6].This commitment to achieve gender equality in power and decision-making in political affairs was reaffirmed at international level by Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security of 2000, which called for the integration of a gender perspective into the national legislation, negotiation and implementation of peace agreements.[7]

 Public and private spheres of human activity have always been considered distinct, and have been regulated accordingly. Customarily, women have been assigned to the private or domestic domain, associated with reproduction and the raising of children, and in South Sudanese, like other societies these activities have been treated as inferior. By contrast, public life, which is respected and honoured, extends to a broad range of activity outside the private and domestic realm. Men have historically dominated both public life and exercised the power to confine and subjugate women into private life. Despite women’s central role in sustaining the family and society and their contribution to development, they have been excluded from political life and the decision-making process, which nonetheless determine the pattern of their daily lives and the future of societies. This exclusion has silenced women’s voices and rendered their contribution and experiences remarkably invisible.[8]

 In South Sudan, the most significant factors which hinder the ability of women to participate in public life have been the framework of cultural values and religious beliefs, the lack of services and fact then men tend to assign women to roles associated with the organization of the household and with the upbringing of children. Cultural traditions and religious beliefs have played a part in confining women to the private spheres of activity and excluding them from active participation in public life.

It is important to relieve women of some of the burdens of domestic work in order to allow them to engage more fully in public life. Women’s economic dependence on men often prevents them from making important political decisions and from participating actively in public life. Their double burden of work and their economic dependence, coupled with the long or inflexible hours of both public and political work, prevent women from being more active.

Stereotyping, including that perpetrated by the media, confines women in political life to issues such as the environment, children and health, and excludes them from responsibility for finance, budgetary control and conflict resolution. The low involvement of women in the professions from which politicians are recruited can create another obstacle. In South Sudan, when women do assume power, it may come not as a result of electoral success in their own right but rather as a result of the influence of their fathers, husbands or male relatives.[9]

  • Purpose of the Study

This study is intended to investigate challenges women face in pursuit of their right   to equal participation in political life and to point out the impact of exclusion of women in public life. The study also aims to inform the political authorities particularly the lawmakers and policy designers about the importance of women’s participation in the political development of the nation.

  • Objectives of the Study.

The overall objective of the study is to analyze the current situation of women in decision-making processes in Central Equatoria, Juba County, with particular emphasis on their political participation and leadership at national and local levels. The paper will put forward policy recommendations for achieving equal participation of women and men in public life after identifying promising practices.

  The paper is specifically intended to:

  1. Examine the conditions under which South Sudan government institutions commit to gender balance and equal participation of women in public life.
  2. Suggest ways of protecting and promoting women’s rights against discriminatory practices.
  3. Explore the extent to which women are able to access decision-making positions at various levels of government.
  1. Investigate the extent to which women’s presence in decision-making bodies can be beneficial to the mainstreaming of a gender perspective into policies.
  2. Propose strategies to advance women’s participation in public life and leadership through capacity-building, gender-sensitive institutional policies, programmes and mechanisms.
  • Scope of the Study

The study covers how women’s equal participation with men has been consolidated into both national and state public institutions.  Relevant public institutions will be assessed including women’s organizations at national and state levels. Taking into account the mammoth task of having to gather accurate information, the study will take approximately three months.

  • Methodology and Structure of chapters

This research will be conducted in Juba County in the libraries of the University of Juba and the Ministry of Justice. It is going to be largely secondary research intended to rely on desk-based information available in libraries and offices of relevant organisations, companies and private and public institutions.

The study will be divided into four chapters. Chapter one will cover introduction, background of the study, purpose, scope, methodology and structure of the study and a brief outline of the paper. Chapter Two will discuss the legal frame work and literature review at both national and international levels on the rights of women to participate equally with men in public life. In chapter three the study will identify and examine some barriers to women’s participation in public sphere, ranging from social, cultural, economic, legal and political. Finally, Chapter Four will conclude by outlining policy recommendations for the promotion of gender equality in South Sudan.

Chapter Two

2.0. Literature Review

2.1. Introduction

Independence of South Sudan puts an end to decades of conflict as well as socioeconomic and political marginalization at the hands of successive governments in Khartoum, which affected women in gender-specific ways. Independence therefore opens up opportunities for economic and social empowerment of women, ensuring that the political and economic institutions and structures of the new country reflect commitments to women’s participation and human rights. There is great potential for gender equality and respect for women’s rights in South Sudan. The government has expressed commitments to equality between women and men and to women’s participation. South Sudan is relatively egalitarian and lacking in religious extremism. International actors interested in South Sudan recognize that promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential to maintaining peace and security vital to South Sudan economic growth.[10]

 2.2. The Concept of Gender Equality

There has been a tendency by government officials and ordinary citizens alike to confuse sex and gender. Such misconception arguably stems from the fact that gender is still a new concept in South Sudan.  The Ministry of Gender and Social Development should take lead in making it clear to the South Sudanese people that the institution itself is not of and for women only[11].

In order to address such propensity, distinction between sex and gender needs to be conceptualized. According to feminist scholars, sex refers to biological and genetic characteristics of a person in which biological and physiological features are central. Gender on the other hand, is understood as a set of attributes and behaviour shaped by society and culture. The social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female and the relationships between women and men and girls and boys, as well as the relations between women and those between men. These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialization processes. They are context and time-specific and changeable. Gender determines what is expected, allowed and valued in a woman or a man in a given context. In most societies there are differences and inequalities between women and men in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities. Gender is part of the broader socio-cultural context. Other important criteria for socio-cultural analysis include class, race, poverty level, ethnic group and age.[12]. In this respect, gender has been defined as a key relational dimension of human activity and thought and as socially and culturally constructed notions of women and men and further includes how these notions structure human society.[13]

 Socialization, understood as the process of learning one’s culture plays a key role in shaping gender ideals, role expectation and people’s perceptions in any given society. In the context of South Sudan where patriarchal practices predominates, socialization takes place in early childhood, during which girls and boys learn the appropriate roles and behaviour for their gender. For instance, girls are taught how to carry out household chores like cooking, cleaning, agricultural work, and family responsibilities and to respect their parents and elders. Similarly, boys are encouraged to learn how to be courageous, aggressive and strong since they are deemed future protectors of the family. Such institutions as the family, school and the media play important roles in perpetuating this process. Therefore, when a girl and a boy become adults, each knows which role she or he is expected to play. Similarly masculinity and femininity are usually seen in opposition, with the former being superior to the latter. Accordingly, men are seen as protectors of family and society, while women are viewed as dependent and submissive to men.[14]For the purposes of this study, ‘gender’ is used as a way of referring to the social organization of relationship between the two sexes while ‘women’ is used, for the purpose of this research paper, as an essential category of social analysis, understood as a differentiated group with varied experiences and status within South Sudanese society.

This conceptual confusion hinders the effective establishment of governmental policies, programs, and norms capable of redressing deep-rooted disparities in women and men’s abilities to aspire to and achieve positions of community and political leadership. The main objective of this study is to contextualize women’s participation in leadership positions, and to show how gendered arrangements in South Sudan have often impaired their full participation in public affairs.[15]

2.3 Understanding Gender Equality

Gender equality in the context of this research paper denotes equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. Equality does not mean that women and men become necessarily the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men. Gender equality is not a women’s issue but should concern and fully engage men as well as women. Equality between women and men is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable development.[16]

 It does not mean that women and men are the same, but rather that their similarities and differences are recognized and equally valued. Gender equality should not be understood as having the same meaning as gender parity. The latter denotes equal numbers of women and men participating and benefiting from a project together while the former refers to women having equal opportunities as men in life, including the capacity to participate in public domain[17].

Although gender mainstreaming seeks to remedy patterns of gender inequality for its focus on transforming gender values and norms in a given society or institutions, the outcome of such efforts often times do not lead to gender equality due to many factors such as social and cultural specificity of gender configurations, availability of resources or lack thereof, and people’s responses to efforts geared towards transforming existing gender arrangements that exclude, marginalize and discriminate against a certain sector of the society.

Similarly, achieving gender equality requires addressing simultaneously the practical and strategic gender interests in South Sudan. Practical gender interests mean the need for basic services and good that arise out of women’s socially constructed roles. Strategic gender interests refer to the transformation of patriarchal relations in a society with real substantive equality between women and men. Unfortunately, given the harsh economic conditions and poverty levels in South Sudan, practical gender needs continue to be the major concern of many South Sudanese women who are poor, unemployed, and the elderly who live in rural areas. Similarly, the deeply rooted customs and patriarchal tendencies prevalent in South Sudan make it challenging for women alone to tackle both interests. Rather, there is need for concerted efforts of both women and men to address practical and strategic gender interests simultaneously to effect change.[18]

2.4   South Sudan’s Commitment to Gender Equality: Data Presentation and Analysis

South Sudan’s constitution makes women’s participation a national priority. The entirety Article 16 of the Transitional Constitution, 2011 has been dedicated to women’s matters as a gesture of good practice.

  • Women shall be accorded full and equal dignity of the person with men.
  • Women shall have the right to equal pay for equal work and other related benefits with men.
  • Women shall have the right to participate equally with men in public life. All levels of government shall:
  1. promote women’s participation in public life and their representation in the legislative and executive organs by at least twenty-five percent as an affirmative action to redress imbalances created by history, customs, and traditions;
  2. enact laws to combat harmful customs and traditions which undermine the dignity and status of women; and
  3. Provide maternity and child care and medical care for pregnant and lactating women.

In any society, enacting, strengthening, harmonizing and implementing relevant constitutional provisions, legislation and policy frameworks can provide a strong foundation for the promotion of gender equality policies and the advancement of women. Proactive methods are required to overcome women’s historical disadvantages.[19]

2.5. Trends and Analysis of Women’s Representation in Public Offices.

Participation of women in public spheres in South Sudan is a national response to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 which is to be implemented at both national and local levels.[20]

There are several indicators in various areas of public domain. Women’s participation in governance has been based on the 25 percent affirmative action stipulated in article 14 of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan. This research paper examines only statistics about women’s representation in the government formed immediately after South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

The Government is composed of the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. All the three arms of government were established by the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011. The political appointments to all ministerial positions are a prerogative of the President. At the National Ministerial levels, the Minister is the most senior, followed by the Deputy Minister, the Undersecretary and the Director General. The most senior position in the National Legislature is the Speaker followed by Deputy Speaker and then the Minority Leader. At state level, the Governor is the most senior, followed by the State Ministers.  The following table represents women’s participation in government established in July 2011.

Table 1.1: Women’s Participation in Government Institutions[21]

Institution Men Women Total Men% Women%
Office of the President 4 0 4 100 0
Presidential Advisors 5 1 6 83 17
National Legislative Assembly 237 95 332 71 29
Council of States 44 6 50 88 12
Chairpersons of NLA Specialised Committees 13 5 18 72 28
National Ministers 24 5 29 83 17
Deputy National Ministers 17 10 27 63 37
Undersecretaries 27 4 31 87 13
State Governors 9 1 10 90 10
Chairpersons of Independent Commissions and Institutions 18 2 20 90 10
Internal Security Affairs 6 0 6 100 0
Deputy Chairpersons of Independent Commissions and Institutions 15 5 20 75 25
Central Bank of South Sudan 6 0 6 100 0
Ambassadors 81 9 90 90 10
Austerity Measures Committee 15 0 15 100 0

As it can be seen in the table above, only four areas of governance attained the 25 percent female participation target. The National Legislative Assembly has started off well with 29 percent, followed by Specialized Committees with 28 percent; Deputy National Ministers were 37 percent women while Deputy Chairpersons of Institutions and Commissions were 25 percent women.[22]  Representation in other sectors of governance failed to reach the 25 percent benchmark. Of the 29 national ministerial positions, only 5 women got ministerial portfolios, none of whom held the key ministries of finance, defence, interior, or foreign affairs. Women were also underrepresented in the Council of State (12 percent). The Council of State is an important body because it is one of the two bodies that make up the National Legislative of South Sudan. Included among some of the important functions of this council are issuing resolutions and directives to guide all levels of government, and overseeing national reconstruction, development and equitable service delivery in the states. Gender mainstreaming certainly does not appear to be a priority if such an important body only has a 12 percent female representation. The percentages of women in various categories of the civil services are also mostly below the 25 percent baseline mark. Of the 10 governors only one was female. South Sudan has 90 Ambassadors of which only 9 were women. Of the 9 women, none had been appointed to a Grade 1 ambassadorial position. Women have a very minimal representation in the Judiciary and Presidential Advisory Group and are altogether absent from the following bodies: Office of the President, Internal Security, the Central Bank, and the Austerity Measures Committee.

On the state level, only three states of Lakes (29 percent); Western Bahr El Ghazal (27 percent) and Western Equatoria (25 percent), had reached the 25 percent affirmative action mark before South Sudan gained its independence.

Table 1.2: Percentages of Women in States Legislative Assemblies before Independence 2011[23]

State Female Mps Male Mps Total Women Mps%
Central Equatoria 11 37 48 22
Jonglei 10 38 48 20
Upper Nile 10 38 48 20
Eastern Equatoria 8 40 48 16
Warrap 10 38 48 20
Northern Bahr El Ghazal 10 38 48 20
Western Bahr El Ghazal 13 35 48 27
Lakes 14 34 48 29
Unity 11 37 48 22
Western Equatoria 12 36 48 25

Another important indicator is the participation of women in peace negotiating teams. A relatively high number of women participated in the drafting of the CPA. There were also women who participated in the CPA negotiating process.[24]The relatively high participation of women in negotiating teams was probably as a result of lobbying by different women activists. Although gender issues were not at the centre of discussions during the CPA, a major accomplishment of the negotiations regarding women’s interest was the inclusion of the 25 percent women’s participation in governance quota. Unfortunately the CPA peace negotiations were the only peace negotiating teams where women were to have significant participation. In the recent negotiations on post-independence issues concerning border demarcation, oil and security, South Sudanese women have been underrepresented in the negotiation teams.

Finally, the other indicator is women’s participation in the justice and security sector and peacekeeping missions. Women are left out in the hierarchy of the judiciary of South Sudan. The constitution of South Sudan mandates the establishment of the Judiciary of South Sudan as an independent decentralized institution with the Supreme Court as the highest court of the state followed by Courts of Appeal; High Courts; County Courts; Other courts or Tribunals as deemed necessary to be established.[25]

Table 1.3: Number and Percentages of Women in the Judiciary before Independence 2011

Stratum Male Female Total Male% Female%
President of Supreme Court 1 0 1 100 0
Deputy President of the Supreme Court 1 0 1 100 0
Courts of Appeal Justices 9 0 9 100 0
High Court Judges 18 2 20 90 10
1st Grade County Court Judges 81 11 92 88 12

As can be seen in Table 1.3 above, few women are represented in the judicial system. The reason is that there are only a few women engaged in this field. In order to address the majority of injustices in post-conflict committed against women, women should be encouraged to join this field[26].

Women in the Armed forces following the independence of South Sudan in 2011 have been estimated to account for lower percentages of all compositions with unofficial estimates of women in the National Police service leveled at 25 percent and remarkably lower in the National Army, the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army.[27]

2.6. Legality of Gender Equality and provisions for Women’s Participation

For South Sudan, the major step forward for women’s participation in politics and public life came after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 which provided for a representation of women by at least 25 percent in all levels of government to redress the imbalances created history and customary practices and more importantly as recognition of their roles and contributions to the liberation struggle.[28] The interim period[29]witnessed an increase in the number of women in decision-making positions of the former Government of Southern Sudan.

According to the Constitution of South Sudan 2011, women have the right to equal participation with men in public life[30]backed by a quota representation of 25% in all levels of government as enshrined in the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011. Besides, other legislated quotas have been placed in the balance to ensure that women do not lag behind in specific areas of interest. The Local Government law provides for a 25% representation of women in the County Legislative Council,[31] the political parties law also requires that the party leaders be democratically elected at all levels and that each party must establish a proportionate representation of women.[32] This quota system is also adopted in national electoral law. The new electoral law which is pending for implementation come next national elections, stipulates that twenty-five percent of the composition of National Legislative Assembly be elected on the basis of proportional representation of women at the national levels from closed party lists.[33] In light of these provisions, it would be a violation of women’s constitutional right to discriminate them on the grounds of sex. Non-discrimination of women on the basis of sex is an internationally recognised principle adopted by most constitutions in African in around the world.

In Sarah Longwe Case, a woman sued a Zambian hotel notorious for rejecting women into its accommodation facilities. Inter-Continental Hotel, situated in Lusaka, like other expensive hotels in the country had a well-known policy of preventing ‘unaccompanied women’ from entering the hotel, or otherwise from certain parts of the hotel especially the bar. A Zambian woman by name Sarah Hlupekile Longwe challenged this discriminatory practice as a Zambian citizen during the period of 1984. She obtained a High court injunction halting the unlawful Hotel practice. The judge pointed out that the hotel discriminatory behaviour was in contravention of the human rights provisions of the constitution of Zambia and that it should be scrapped forthwith.

2.7. International policy framework Relevant to South Sudan

It is very important to strengthen women’s political participation at all levels and representation in public offices so that they can have a strong voice in the setting of development policy and priorities.[34]

As a matter of principle, said Christine Lagarde, embracing gender equality is the right thing to do. That should be reason enough and there is also plenty of research that shows that gender balance is critical for the effectiveness of work and economies. No matter what aspect the research focuses on, women’s economic engagement, risk-taking in business, management and leadership, the findings amount to the same thing. By not fully engaging half of the population, we all lose out.[35]

Internationally, there have been several conventions, declarations, and communiqués regarding the promotion of women’s rights and elimination of discriminatory practices against women. There is particular emphasis on the need to respect women’s dignity and granting them equal treatment with men. In a gender equality case, Unity Dow v. Attorney General 1992, The plaintiff, Unity Dow, was a citizen of Botswana, married to a non-citizen, whose children had been denied citizenship under a provision of the Citizenship Act 1984 that conferred citizenship on a child born in Botswana only if his father was a citizen of Botswana or in the case of a person born out-of-wedlock, his mother was a citizen of Botswana. The plaintiff claimed that this provision violated guarantees of the Botswana Constitution and in grave breach of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The High Court agreed, holding that the provision infringed the right to liberty, the right not to be expelled from Botswana, the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment, and the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex. This decision was appealed against but it was upheld by the Court of Appeal of Botswana.

 Exploring the international efforts concerning gender equity, the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, drew attention to the persisting inequality between men and women in decision-making. The Beijing Platform for Action reaffirmed that women’s persistent exclusion from formal politics, in particular, raises a number of specific questions regarding the achievement of effective democratic transformations, in practice. It undermines the concept of democracy, which, by its nature, assumes that the right to vote and to be elected should be equally applied to all citizens, both women and men. The invisibility of women from political decision-making has a negative impact on the entire process of democratization. In addition, democratic institutions, including parliament, do not automatically achieve gender equality in terms of representation, or in terms of policy agenda setting and accountability.[36]

The Beijing Platform for Action emphasized that women’s equal participation in decision-making is not only a demand for justice or democracy, but can also be seen as a necessary condition for women’s interests to be taken into account. Without the perspective of women at all levels of decision-making, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved. The Beijing Platform for Action defined two strategic objectives in its critical area of concern on women in power and decision-making: to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in power structures and decision-making; to increase women’s capacity to participate in decision-making and leadership.

The following measures were recommended by the Beijing Platform for Action for the implementation of the first strategic objective: to achieve gender-balanced composition in governmental bodies and committees, as well as in public administration and in judiciary, including setting specific targets and, if necessary, establishing a positive action policy; to integrate women into elective positions in political parties; to promote and protect women’s political rights; and to reconcile work and family responsibilities for both men and women. For the second strategic objective, the Platform for Action recommended the organization of leadership and gender awareness training; the development of transparent criteria for decision-making positions; and the creation of a system of mentoring.[37]

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), appeals to States parties to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country. At its sixteenth session (1997), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women adopted general recommendation 23 regarding the participation of women in political and public life. It emphasized that States parties should ensure that their constitutions and legislation complied with the principles of the Convention and that they were under obligation to take all necessary measures, including temporary special measures, to achieve the equal representation of women in political and public life.[38]

The Convention emphases the following rights in regard to women’s equal participation with men in public life:

  1. The right to participate in formulation of government policy*

The participation of women in government at the policy level continues to be low in general. Although significant progress has been made and in some countries equality has been achieved, in many countries women’s participation has actually been reduced. The Convention calls upon States parties to ensure that women have the right to participate fully in and be represented in public policy formulation in all sectors and at all levels. This would facilitate the mainstreaming of gender issues and contribute a gender perspective to public policy-making. It also imposes a responsibility on state parties to appoint women to senior decision-making roles and to consult and incorporate the advice of groups which are broadly representative of women’s views and interests. States parties have a further obligation to ensure that barriers to women’s full participation in the formulation of government policy are identified and overcome. These barriers include complacency when token women are appointed, and traditional and customary attitudes that discourage women’s participation. When women are not broadly represented in the senior levels of government or are inadequately or not consulted at all, government policy will not be comprehensive and effective. While States parties generally hold the power to appoint women to senior cabinet and administrative positions, political parties also have a responsibility to ensure that women are included in party lists and nominated for election in areas where they have a likelihood of electoral success. States parties should also endeavour to ensure that women are appointed to government advisory bodies on an equal basis with men and that these bodies take into account the views of representative women’s groups. It is there a fundamental duty of the government to encourage initiatives to lead and guide public opinion and change attitudes that discriminate against women or discourage women’s involvement in political and public life.

Measures that have been adopted by a number of States parties in order to ensure equal participation by women in senior cabinet and administrative positions and as members of government advisory bodies include: adoption of a rule whereby, when potential appointees are equally qualified, preference will be given to a woman nominee; the adoption of a rule that neither sex should constitute less than 40 per cent or 25% in the case of South Sudan, of the members of a public body; a quota for women members of cabinet and for appointment to public office; and consultation with women’s organizations to ensure that qualified women are nominated for membership in public bodies and offices and the development and maintenance of registers of such women in order to facilitate the nomination of women for appointment to public bodies and posts. Where members are appointed to advisory bodies upon the nomination of private organizations, States parties should encourage these organizations to nominate qualified and suitable women for membership in these bodies.[39]

  1. The right to hold public office and to perform all public functions*

According to reports by State Parties, it is found out that women are excluded from top-ranking positions in cabinets, the civil service and in public administration, in the judiciary and in justice systems. Women are rarely appointed to these senior or influential positions and while their numbers may in some States be increasing at the lower levels and in posts usually associated with the home or the family, they form only a tiny minority in decision-making positions concerned with economic policy or development, political affairs, defence, peacemaking missions, conflict resolution or constitutional interpretation and determination. In other reports by State parties it is demonstrated that in certain cases the law excludes women from exercising royal powers, from serving as judges in religious or traditional tribunals vested with jurisdiction on behalf of the State or from full participation in the military. These provisions discriminate against women, deny the society the advantages of their involvement and skills in these areas of the life of their communities and contravene the principles of the Convention.[40]Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees everyone’s right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives and to have the right of equal access to public service in his country.[41]

  1. The right to participate in non-governmental and public and political organizations[42]

 In most cases, women are under-represented or concentrated in less influential roles than men. As political parties are an important vehicle in decision-making roles, Governments should encourage political parties to examine the extent to which women are full and equal participants in their activities and, where this is not the case, should identify the reasons for this. Political parties should be encouraged to adopt effective measures, including the provision of information, financial and other resources, to overcome obstacles to women’s full participation and representation and ensure that women have an equal opportunity in practice to serve as party officials and to be nominated as candidates for election.

There are measures that have been adopted by some political parties include setting aside for women a certain minimum number or percentage of positions on their executive bodies, ensuring that there is a balance between the number of male and female candidates nominated for election, and ensuring that women are not consistently assigned to less favourable constituencies or to the least advantageous positions on a party list. States parties should ensure that such temporary special measures are specifically permitted under anti-discrimination legislation or other constitutional guarantees of equality.

As a joint effort, other organizations such as trade unions and political parties have an obligation to demonstrate their commitment to the principle of gender equality in their constitutions, in the application of those rules and in the composition of their memberships with gender-balanced representation on their executive boards so that these bodies may benefit from the full and equal participation of all sectors of society and from contributions made by both sexes. These organizations also provide a valuable training ground for women in political skills, participation and leadership, just as non-governmental organization do.[43]

Considering the importance of increasing women’s participation in positions of power and decision-making, the UN General Assembly, at its fifty-eighth session in 2003, adopted resolution 58/142 on women and political participation which urged Governments, the UN system, NGOs and other actors to develop a comprehensive set of policies and programmes to increase women’s participation in decision-making, including in conflict resolution and peace processes by addressing the existing obstacles facing women in their struggle for participation. The resolution also addressed the importance of supporting and generating political will, serious commitment to the promotion of the advancement of women and the goals of gender equality through the organization of awareness-raising campaigns. The resolution requested the Secretary-General to include information on the political participation of women in his report to the fiftieth session of the Commission in 2006, when the Commission would consider the theme on equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels.

The ten-year review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action culminated at the forty-ninth session of the Commission in March 2005. Member States reported on the introduction of measures aimed at increasing the participation of women in decision-making at different levels. The Declaration adopted during the ten-year review and appraisal, while recognizing progress made, noted remaining gaps and challenges and called for accelerated implementation. The outcome of the September, 2005 World Summit also reaffirmed commitment to the equal participation of women and men in decision-making. Member States resolved to promote the increased representation of women in Government decision-making bodies, including through ensuring their equal opportunity to participate fully in the political process.[44]

2.8.   Rationale for Equal Participation of women with men in Public Life

It is unanimously agreed by practitioners, government policy makers and implementers and scholars that, having equal number of women and men in political offices is of paramount importance. Several arguments have been advanced in this regard to pave the way for full realization of gender equality.

There is the justice argument which looks at the total composition of populations and acknowledges that since women account for approximately half the population they have the right to be represented as such. Relying on Sudan 5th Census, 2008, women account for over 60% of the South Sudan population[45]. Excluding such remarkable part of the population in public and political life of a country means inflicting social harm on the society itself.

The experience argument suggests that women’s experiences are different from men’s and need to be represented in private as well as public discussions in relation to policy-making and implementation. These different experiences mean that women have different talents and therefore different methods of settling issues and designing programs.

The interest argument implies that the interests of men and women are different and even conflicting and therefore women are needed in representative institutions to voice the interests of women because they have certain political, social and developmental interest’s specific to their diverse status, conditions and capabilities. Related to interest argument is the critical mass argument which hints that women are able to achieve solidarity of purpose to represent women’s interests when they achieve certain levels of representation.

Finally, the democracy argument puts forward the fact that equal representation of women and men enhances democratization of governance in all types of democracies.[46]

2.9 International Trends of Quota Representation

In South Sudan, despite the devastating effects of civil war on women, experience shows that women can make at least headway even during conflict, as women assume more non-traditional roles outside the household, as gender norms change, and as the war disrupts traditional local structures. South Sudan, like several other post-conflict African countries, is duty bound to strengthen these breakthroughs during post-conflict rehabilitation. In Rwanda for example, after the 1994 genocide, women’s political participation in Rwanda increased, and the country’s parliament now has the highest level of female representation worldwide. Other African countries have done much about gender equality and women’s equal participation with men in public life. Uganda in 1995 introduced a system of one reserved seat for a women representative in each constituency. Post-war Liberia elected Africa’s first female president while South Africa has one of the most gender-sensitive constitutions with30 per cent quota system of the ANC party bringing the country to the top of the world rank order of countries with high women’s representation[47] and Kenya, after postelection violence in 2008, has made considerable constitutional reforms enabling women to protect their rights by strengthening provisions in the new constitution.[48]

Political will is important to ensuring gender equality in post-conflict settings. Having regard for the historical background of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the ruling party, has acknowledged the specific adverse effects of conflict and marginalization on women. South Sudanese women have been designated as marginalised of  the marginalised.* The majority of female and male politicians in South Sudan also acknowledge the roles that women played during the conflict as well as their roles as peace builders and in mobilizing voters for the referendum on independence in January 2011. Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, South Sudan also has committed itself to ensuring women’s participation, including through a quota system to ensure gender parity in government.

There is a general belief in South Sudan that women are in a better position to achieve gender equality due to the relative lack of religious extremism, compared with neighbouring countries.[49]Increased global efforts in gender equality, women’s political participation, and human rights constitute another enabling factor for equality in South Sudan. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which many world leaders have endorsed, include commitments to women’s empowerment and gender equality, which are now considered essential to achieving all MDGs. Women’s political participation and gender mainstreaming, including in post-conflict societies, have also been on the global security agenda since 2000, with the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325.[50]

2.10. The benefits of having Equal number of women and men in public offices 

Presence of substantial number of women in parliament and other government institutions brings about changes in the culture of government institutions and in some people’s attitudes towards women’s role in politics and public affairs. Women have the ability to articulate issues, to stand on issues on the basis of principles. It has been noted that across different ministries that women are more effective in applying regulations than men and by comparison they are less corrupt than men.[51]

The other benefit of gender equity is that it brings women and gender issues to the fore front of the national debate. It is common today, for instance, to hear about specific issues affecting women and power relationship between women and men discussed on national and independent media outlets, workshops, conferences and other avenues in South Sudan. Issues such as women’s rights, gender-based violence, human rights, and so forth are frequently discussed by government officials, women’s groups, policy makers and ordinary South Sudanese.[52]

Furthermore, the 25% affirmative action for women can also be seen as one of the mechanisms which have been used to accelerate the political empowerment of women in South Sudan. It addresses the historical imbalances that exist between women and men in the political arena. Without quota system to balance numbers and ensure gender parity, women will remain disadvantaged for longer period of time. [53]

The employment of female decision makers in the civil service is more likely to ensure that planning and budgeting processes are gender responsive, and that the needs and priorities of women and girls are seriously addressed. Also, with the increased post-conflict incidence of female headed households, a policy that actively pursues the inclusion of women in the civil service has additional benefits, given the fact that the security of stable employment (such as in the civil service) has been proven to have multiplier effects on not only individual households, but also on community welfare.[54]

Women are no longer regarded as eccentrics in the political field and more and more women are coming out to participate as a matter of course. The presence of women in the legislatures and other government institutions has caused men to contribute in a more cautious manner and to censor themselves in whatever they say, making sure that it is not offensive to women. And now there is a far more emphasis on women’s issues and gender matters and they are no longer invisible.[55]

Chapter Three

3.0    Introduction

It is clear that public institutions across South Sudan have not yet tapped the full talents and potential of women. If public offices are to be representative of society and inclusive of women, viable pathways must exist for women to enter and advance to leadership positions at all levels and in all sectors on an equal basis with men.

A growing number of women aspire to leadership on the same terms as men and have made the same choices as their male counterparts, but they continue to confront obstacles.[56]  Even in countries where women have equal access to education, increased representation in public offices and in particular in decision-making positions, are not always ensured.

Several explanations as to why women are under-represented in decision-making positions are often based on assumptions about women’s career choices or lack of expertise. These common assumptions fail to take into account the impact of systemic gender-based discrimination. There is no doubt that considerations for balance of work-life play an important role in women’s career decisions, and are also increasingly becoming a concern for some men. Similarly, individual capacities, competencies and choices do play a part in the career paths of both women and men and their willingness and ability to take on responsibilities in both the private sphere and in professional life, but for women, these are also influenced by broader, systemic socio-cultural gender-based constraints.[57]

3.1     Barriers to Women’s Participation in Public Life

Although continued efforts to improve women’s and girls’ access to education are obviously an important foundational measure to advance women’s equal participation and decision-making in public, other factors must also be taken into consideration. Although barriers and challenges vary across national, socio-cultural and political contexts, some common obstacles to women’s equal presence in decision-making positions have been identified.

  1. Conflict and Post-Conflict Challenges

In post-conflict environments, the challenge of balancing many priorities can mean that social and gender dimensions are de-prioritized.[58] Women face particular obstacles to entering public sector in this context. Despite the fact that during conflict women’s roles in the public arena are frequently expanded and women in communities often act as effective leaders and mediators, as well as combatants, the post-conflict period commonly witnesses a resurfacing of stereotypical attitudes about women’s place in society and their leadership skills and women are pushed out of public roles. In addition, the burden of ensuring the subsistence of the household in stressful periods means that many women have little time to build skills for employment in public administration.

  1. Gaps in adoption and implementation of enabling legal and policy frameworks

Comprehensive legislative and policy foundations are the first step toward gender equality and gender parity. These need to be in line with international and regional frameworks and contain direct references to gender equality in public administration, including in decision-making positions. Legislation and policies must be grounded in international norms and standards. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), in particular, which is binding on all state parties, calls for the systematic removal of any forms of overt discrimination and for the implementation of special measures to correct historical imbalances. Furthermore, national legislation and policies need to be implemented. The 25% Affirmative Action has not received any substantial implementation at all levels of government of South Sudan. This can be seen as lack of political will to fight back the menacing inequality which is widespread in this typically patriarchical South Sudanese society. Once the required legislative and policy frameworks are in place, focus should shift to implementation. Unfortunately, these internationally-agreed and regional standards and commitments are often not acted upon in practice.[59]

  1. The Gendered Division of Labour

The socio-economic position of women in societies negatively affects their participation. Typically, women earn less than men, and the sexual division of labour in society also imposes burdens on women that are not normally faced by men. Women often face a triple burden when participating in politics. They have a responsibility to their work or profession, to their family, and if they become involved in politics they are effectively taking on a third full-time job. Most societies fail to organize in a manner that enables both men and women with families to share these responsibilities, particularly considering that child-rearing responsibilities tend to fall disproportionately on women. Therefore, gendered division of labour puts heavy burden on women’s shoulders and further contributes to the marginalization of women in politics and public life. The late founder and chairperson of the SPLM/A Dr. John Garang indeed was the first leader to acknowledge how gendered division of labour places more burden on women’s lives. In his speech during the signing of the CPA in 2005, he noted that women in Sudan as elsewhere in the world are the marginalized of the marginalized whose suffering goes beyond description. He observed that a Sudanese rural woman, for example, gets up at five O’clock in the morning, to walk five kilometres, just to bring five gallons of water after five hours walk, spends another five hours working on the family farm, and five more hours making the family meal.[60]

  1. Dual system of Customary Laws and Statutory Laws[61]

Another recurring problem is failure to harmonize various pieces of law and policy relevant to gender equality and gender parity. In South Sudan, for example, the national labour law may have provisions for a certain level of continued salary during maternity leave or prohibition of sexual harassment, but the laws for civil servants do not include the same guarantee. The application of dual legal systems can also pose challenges when amendments made in statutory law that are in line with international instruments and conventions are not in sync with the administration of justice under customary law. Consequently, while certain discriminatory practices have been abolished under statutory law, their application continues under customary law. Such dual legal systems continue to disadvantage women.[62]

Customary laws in the South Sudan have so far influenced the role of women in public life, in particular political participation. The existing customary laws make it harder for women to escape the bondage of domestic roles which relegated them to the status of second class citizens. It is true that under customary law women are valued and respected as mothers. They are also valued and cherished as daughters because they are expected to bring wealth to the family upon marriage. Women are also seen as guardians of culture and traditions and are charged with imparting cultural values to the younger generation. However, this accord of respect is not usually complemented by many aspects of customary laws pertaining to women’s lives. These same aspects of the law are sometimes used to marginalize women’s voices and rights, as well as to justify women’s exclusion from political participation and decision-making process.[63]

  1. Corruption in Recruitment of workforce

During every recruitment process, unaccountable, corrupt and predominantly male networks shape decisions around recruitment and promotion within bureaucracies.[64] According to different sources corruption along the route to power reinforces the dominance of those already in power – and in most contexts where corruption is prevalent, those in power are men.[65] Corruption in recruitment processes for public service positions may also take the form of sexual extortion where women candidates are promised jobs in return for sexual favours. Where corrupt practices are embedded within institutions, women public officials may find promotions or job security elusive.[66] The influence of politics on recruitment and related decisions is another dimension of corruption. Linked to this is a lack of a culture of accountability in some public administrations.[67] This undermines all policy and programming efforts and, together with a weak capacity of key actors, is likely to be a major contributing factor to the gaps between policy and practice.

  1. High Illiteracy Rate among Women

Socio-cultural perceptions in South Sudan further contribute to the high illiteracy rates among women. For instance, some cultural practices and perceptions in South Sudan tend to devalue girls and women’s education. This can be attributed to the fact that male children are favoured over girls among many ethnic groups in South Sudan. This preference of boys over girls sometimes influences parents’ decisions about sending children to school. Girls’ education is generally seen as less important and waste of resources than that of boys. Such perceptions stems partly from the social and cultural perceptions rooted in the understanding that a girl is merely a family ‘asset’ who would be married off to another family in exchange for bride wealth. A boy, however, is seen as an heir to the family’s wealth and property, and who will continue the lineage and family name following the passing of his father. The high rate of illiteracy among women in South Sudan is another obstacle to women political participation. According to the Ministry of Education’s report of July 2011, the illiteracy rate in South Sudan is 73% and women represent the overwhelming majority. Several factors contributed to such high illiteracy rate, among them the consequences of the 22-year civil war during which many educational institutions were destroyed, as well as some cultural perceptions that undervalue girls and women’s education.[68]

  1. Women’s Differentiated Personal Locations

It is to be acknowledged that women in South Sudan are not a homogenous group. Differences exist based on educational achievement, financial situation, age, marital status, political party affiliation, ethnic and regional affiliation, religion, and other forms of social difference. These social differences in turn shape and influence women’s decisions, their chances, and the choices they make regarding their participation in political activities and public life at large.[69]

  1. Discriminatory and unsupportive organizational cultures in public offices

Organizational cultures are influenced by gendered norms, which are usually unarticulated, unwritten, and sometimes unconscious, and therefore hard to identify and address. Socio-cultural norms can positively or negatively shape gender roles and relationships, and either feed or deconstruct negative gender-based stereotypes.

Institutional cultures that do not penalize sexism and harassment are major barriers to women’s confidence and advancement in public administration. Women can be vulnerable to harassment in any context, but those who enter traditionally male-dominated occupations, where their presence challenges masculine culture, may be at higher risk[70]. Existing literature found that sexual harassment persists in public administration and there is an absence of comprehensive information on its incidence. Sexism and sexual harassment can be taboo in many contexts. Many victims are either not aware of how to report it or are unwilling to do so, partly because of fear of victimization and the difficulty of proving sexual harassment.[71]

Cultural practices and perceptions in South Sudan represent major obstacles to women’s participation in politics and other public affairs. Practices such as early, forced, and arranged marriages hinder women’s advancement and empowerment. Such practices, for instance, limit women’s chances to continue education which will allow them to pursue careers in politics and other professions. In addition, cultural perceptions and patriarchal tendencies that view women as suited only for domestic responsibilities while involvement in politics is seen as men domain further hinder women’s efforts to pursue political role. The life-long belief that power and leadership is in the hands of men can lead to women not imagining themselves in decision-making positions and to their being overlooked in favour of male candidates. Women may see themselves as less deserving than men for rewards for the same performance and less qualified for key leadership positions.[72]

Chapter Four

4.0.    Policy Recommendations

In this final chapter of the study, key policy recommendations are put forward for consideration by various actors concerned with women’s empowerment in South Sudan. The recommendations appeal to the government institutions, parliaments, non-state actors, civil society organizations, political parties and other concerned national, regional international bodies to step to the more strongly.

The employment of female decision makers in the civil service is more likely to ensure that planning and budgeting processes are gender responsive, and that the needs and priorities of women and girls are seriously addressed. Also, with the increased post-conflict incidence of female headed households, a policy that actively pursues the inclusion of women in the civil service has additional benefits, given the fact that the security of stable employment such as in the civil service has proved to have multiplier effects on not only individual households, but also on community welfare.[73] Advancing women in the ranks of public leadership is important as a gender equality goal, and because gender balance in public administration ensures that a wider range of perspectives is brought to bear on policy-making and service delivery.[74]

The range of systemic and other barriers that continue to impede women’s equal participation and decision-making in public sector in South Sudan were reviewed in Chapter Three above.

This chapter is intended to highlight necessary steps and concrete measures that can be taken to tackle barriers to gender equity within public sector and beyond. These recommendations span short, medium and long-term measures. These recommendations focus on increasing the number and impact of women in decision-making positions.

4.1.   Recommendations for increasing the number and impact of women in decision-making

This paper recommends that government actors should:

  1. Promote women’s participation at all levels, South Sudan by setting priorities through consultations and other democratic processes that involve wide participation by women.
  2. Encourage donors should support exchange visits for women’s rights activists and representatives of women’s organizations to countries such as South Africa and Kenya, which underwent constitutional processes resulting in documents with strong commitments to gender equality.
  3. Instigate a wide debate among elders, judges, communities, and civil society organizations (including women’s organizations) to develop a common understanding of the local justice system and of the women’s human rights enshrined in international human rights agreements, especially the African Women’s Rights Protocol.
  4. Collaborate with civil society and donors to promote women’s grassroots participation, which could include training in leadership and other relevant skills; working to strengthen women’s self-esteem; and identifying and eliminating socioeconomic, political, and cultural barriers to women’s participation at the household, community, and state levels. Barriers include household responsibilities that limit women’s participation and women’s need for spousal permission to be able to attend meetings or other functions
  5. Ensure that a quota of at least 30 percent of seats at all levels of government is allocated for women in South Sudan’s permanent constitution which is under review. The permanent constitution of South Sudan should reflect a strong commitment to Women’s rights and gender equality in all its relevant clauses. To promote women’s participation at all levels, South Sudan should set priorities through consultations and other democratic processes that involve wide participation by women.
  6. Ensure that in addition to national laws, relevant international instruments relating to full political rights for women, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on the Political Rights of Women, are ratified, integrated into national law and implemented, especially in the rural areas where women are still denied the opportunities to stand for election.
  7. Review the existing constitutional, political, legislative, and regulatory frameworks, particularly given that South Sudan is country in transition and in a post-conflict situation, for provisions that may hinder women’s equal participation, such as rules requiring high numbers of signatures to register as a candidate or high monetary deposits that can be discriminatory against women candidates.
  8. Seek to achieve gender equality in all decision-making bodies, by establishing incremental time-bound targets for increasing women’s representation.
  9. Enact special measures to guarantee women access to the legislature and decision-making positions, including through legislated quotas within a proportional representation system and reserved seats within national parliamentary systems with specific and effective sanctions imposed on political parties and other institutions for non-compliance.
  10. Ensure that women and men have equal opportunities during election campaigns, such as providing public funding, access to the state media, setting campaign spending limits, and ensuring that campaign finances and expenditures are disclosed.
  11. Develop and promote gender-sensitive curriculum and teacher training on civic education for men and women.
  12. Use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) training as a tool in education and training efforts, in particular to overcome the digital divide between men and women in the use of new technologies and to provide women with equal access to information.
  13. Design appropriate programmes and mechanisms to develop and strengthen a culture of ethics in public service to fight sexual harassment in public offices which tend to deter women from taking part in public life.

The paper recommends that political parties should:

  1. Adopt clear and transparent rules to ensure internal democracy, with specific attention to gender equality.
  2. Consider special measures to ensure women’s participation in decision-making positions within political parties with the aim of achieving parity at all levels.
  3. Adopt clear rules for candidate selection that would allow party members to provide meaningful input into the process of selecting candidates.
  4. Implement effective gender quotas with the aim of achieving equitable representation of women candidates in elected positions, including party placement mandates in winnable positions.
  5. Promote women’s candidacies through the adoption of special training programmes, recruitment drives and financial incentives, especially in majoritarian electoral systems where women may face greater challenges in getting nominated.
  6. Provide statistical data disaggregated by sex, such as the number of women and men among candidates, elected representatives, party members and in governance and leadership structures.
  7. Provide women’s branches in political parties, where they exist, with the necessary resources for effective functioning, influence on decision-making, visibility within the party structures and means to support women’s candidacies and influence the selection process.
  8. Allocate a percentage of public non-campaign related funding to activities related to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, including training and research.

The paper recommends that electoral management bodies should:

  1. Ensure that women are included in key decision-making positions within electoral management bodies and that in electoral processes and administration due consideration is given to issues of gender equality and empowerment of women, including the provision of opportunities for illiterate voters, the majority of whom are women, to fully participate in elections. Additionally, polling places should be easily accessible to both men and women.
  2. Collect and provide sex-disaggregated data on levels of registration, voter turnout, the number of male and female candidates and those elected, by party and by constituency where applicable.
  3. Ensure that public service information and voter education campaigns use gender-sensitive language and avoid negative portrayals of women.

The paper recommends that international actors should:

  1. Provide resources for training of potential South Sudanese women candidates across party lines in the skills necessary to engage in political campaigning and interact effectively with the media.
  2. Support and promote public awareness-raising campaigns to combat negative stereotypes, emphasize the legitimate role of women in decision-making processes at all levels, and encourage women’s participation in decision-making.
  3. Facilitate research about the conditions under which women’s participation and representation is increased and enhanced in political parties, government and parliaments, including through the adoption of different political reforms, and disseminate the examples of good practices.

The paper recommends that civil society actors should:

  1. Hold government, legislatures and political parties accountable for progress in increasing women’s participation and representation.
  2. Facilitate linkages between women in decision-making positions and those working for the empowerment of women at the grassroots, in the academic community and in civil society organizations.
  3. Monitor the media’s coverage of women and gender equality issues, and identify and report on gender bias particularly with respect to women in decision-making.
  4. Strengthen civic and citizenship training in schools and continuing adult education and ensure its gender responsiveness at national, state and local levels.
  5. Strengthen advocacy on the issues of gender equality and empowerment of women among the general public with special emphasis on parents and teachers.[75]


The independence of South Sudan in 2011 presents an unusual opportunity to ensure that state structures, institutions, strategies, plans, budgets, and monitoring and evaluation all reflect and meet the aspirations, priorities, and needs of all South Sudanese, and particularly  women, and that these activities result in gender equality and women’s human rights. The Transitional Constitution 2011 offers a starting point through a 25 percent affirmative action. The government of South Sudan should therefore ensure fullest implementation and adds a strong voice for meaningful participation of women at all stages of state building. Meaning participation means that the government should look beyond numbers but rather the substantiality of this involvement. It also means creating favourable environment for women’s participation, human rights, and gender equality by addressing women’s immediate needs of access to quality health and education, and helps them in their quest to live in a country free of all forms of violence and discrimination.

The women’s movement in South Sudan, especially South Sudan Women Empowerment Network (SSWEN), can integrate the demands and priorities of women and wider communities into the process of state building. It should be able to operate in an open and free environment and access resources that can facilitate the articulation and implementation of the visions and agendas of women and women’s groups in South Sudan. There should be prevalence of political will and action to promote gender equality if government is to meet its obligations and political commitments. This will ensure a strong economy and a functional state, setting an example for other countries emerging from conflict in Africa and elsewhere.

Women’s empowerment should be a collective effort by state and non-state actors. It is therefore recommended that all actors should encourage women to seek greater involvement in the decision-making processes at all levels and to provide a systematic significant influence on decision-making processes and policy outcomes.

[1] See Article 7 of The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women which obliges all State Parties to take all appropriate measures to protect women against all forms of discrimination in public and political life.

[2]UNDP Global Report on Gender Equality in Public Administration , May 2014, P.64

[3]Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 23, Political and Public Life (Sixteenth session, 1997), U.N. Doc. A/52/38/Rev.1 at 61 (1997), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 260 (2003).

[4] Gender Concerns International, Women in South Sudan – ‘Predicament, Challenge and Hope’,2011

[5] Ibid,

 *CPA – refers to Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005 between the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army to end the 21- year civil war.

*Rule of Law is defined as ‘a state of order in which events conform to the law’ by Advanced English Dictionary for Windows 8

[6] Article 16 (3) and (4) (a) of The Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011

[7]“Equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes, with particular emphasis on political participation and leadership”  Expert Group Meeting -Organized by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) -Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) ,Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 24 to 27 October 2005

[8]See University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, ‘Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 23, Political and Public Life’ (Sixteenth session, 1997), U.N. Doc. A/52/38/Rev.1 at 61 (1997), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 260 (2003). 

[9] See University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, ‘Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 23, Political and Public Life’ (Sixteenth session, 1997), U.N. Doc. A/52/38/Rev.1 at 61 (1997), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 260 (2003). 

[10]See United States Institute of Peace- SPECIAL REPORT by Nada Mustafa Ali – ‘Gender and State Building in South Sudan.’

[11] Ibid, P. 9

[12]UNDP Global Report on Gender Equality in Public Administration, May 2014,  P. 64

[13]Doreen Indra in ‘Engendering Forced Migration: Theory and Practice. ‘New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1999, pages 2, 6. 

[14]J. D. Holtzman writes in her study titled Nuer Journeys, Nuer Lives: Sudanese Refugees in Minnesota according to the Nuer masculine ideals, “[t]he man should be the ruler of the home, and his wife should obediently act according to his will.”

[15] ibid

[16] See UNDP Gender and Public Administration Report, May 2014, P. 64

[17]Maretha de Waal. “Evaluating Gender Mainstreaming in Development Projects,” Development in Practice, vol. 16, No. 2, (April 2006), page 209, pp. 209-214,

[18] Jane K Edward, P. 10

[19] UNDP Global Report on  Gender Equality in Public Administration, May 2014, p. 29

[20]‘ WOMEN COUNT’ Security Council Resolution 1325:Civil Society Monitoring Report 2012

[21] A project of the Global Network of Women Peace- builders: Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, Liberia, Nepal, Netherlands, Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, and Uganda

[22]Women’s 22

[23] See Department of Research and Library of South Sudan National Legislative Assembly

[24]See ‘WOMEN COUNT’: Security Council Resolution 1325Civil Society Monitoring Report 2012

[25] See Article 123 of the Transitional Constitution 2011, Structure of the Judiciary.

[26] Visit

[27] ibid

[28] See Article 16 (4)(a) of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011 about the historic provision on quota representation of women by 25% as drawn from the stipulations of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between the National Congress Party (now of Sudan) and Sudan’s People Liberation Movement/Army (currently the ruling party in South Sudan.)

[29] The Interim Period was part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement 2005 that granted six years autonomy to Southern Sudan and ran from 2005-2011.

[30] Ibid,  Article 16 (3)

[31] Section 26(b) of the Local Government Act, 2009.

[32]Section 16 (2)(c) of the Political Parties Act, (33 of 2012) provides that the Parties leaders shall be democratically elected at all levels and shall provide for proportionate representation of women on a basis to be established by each party.

[33] Article 60(2) of the National Elections Act,2012

[34]– Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, opening remarks at the Democracy and Gender Equality Roundtable, 4 May 2011.

[35]– Christine Lagarde, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, “Dare the Difference,” Finance & Development, June 2013, Vol. 50, No. 2

[36]United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW); Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA); Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)-Equal Participation of Women and Men in Decision-Making Processes,

with Particular Emphasis on Political Participation and Leadership – Report of the Expert Group MeetingAddis Ababa, Ethiopia, 24 – 27 October 2005

[37] ibid, p. 5

[38] Ibid, p. 6

[39] Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 23, Political and Public Life (Sixteenth session, 1997), U.N. Doc. A/52/38/Rev.1 at 61 (1997), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 260 (2003).

[40] Ibid

*See Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Article 7, Para.(b)

[41] See Article 21, (1) and (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

[42]CEDAW Article 7, Para. (c)

[43]See Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 23, Political and Public Life (Sixteenth session, 1997), U.N. Doc. A/52/38/Rev.1 at 61 (1997), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 260 (2003).

[44] Ibid, p.7

[45] Gender Concern International, Women in South Sudan, ‘Predicament, Challenge and Hope.’

[46] Report by Expert Group Meeting – The above arguments are advanced in favour of equal participation of women although some of these arguments tend to be problematic. For example the experience argument tends to treat women as homogeneous group without regard to their socioeconomic and cultural diversity among them. *The Late Dr. John Garang, in his speech at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi- Kenya during the signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement, said women in the Sudan are ‘…the marginalised of the marginalised.’

[47]See Quotas for Women by Drude Dahlerup and Lenita Freidenvall – Paper presented at the IPSA World Congress, Durban, South Africa, June 29 to July 4, 2003and in the present updated version at the APSA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, August 28 to 31, 2003.

[48] See United States Institute of Peace – Special Report by Nada Mustafa Ali, ‘Gender and State Building In South Sudan’

[49] Ibid, p.2

[50] Ibid, p. 3

[51] The Sudd Institute – Special Report 2012

[52] ibid

[53] ibid

[54][54]Adapted from Restore or Reform: UN Support to Core Government Functions in the Aftermath of Conflict, UNDP, 20 March 2014.

[55] See Sylvia Tamale, ‘When Hens Begin to Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda,’ P.68

[56] Women and Leadership – The State of Play and Strategies for Change, Barbara Kellerman and Deborah L. Rhode eds, Jossey-Bass (2007).

[57]See UNDP GEPA Global Report, May 2014

[58] The Price of Peace: Financing for Gender Equality in Post Conflict Recovery and Reconstruction, UNDP (2010). Contributed by UN Women, New York, May 2012.

[59] United Nations, Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, 27 October 1995. Strategic Objective G.1. womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/decision.htm.

[60] Ibid, p. 20

[61] Dual legal system in South Sudan has long been recognized by all supreme laws including Comprehensive Peace Agreement, 2005, The Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan and the current Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011.

[62] GEPA Botswana Case Study, UNDP (2012), p. 14.

[63] Ibid, p. 23

[64] See

[65] See Wangnerud (2008) in Bjarnegård, E. (2008), “Gender and Corruption – Reversing the Causal Direction”. Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in Boston, MA, 28-31 August 2008. in Corruption, Accountability and Gender: Understanding the Connections, UNDP and UNIFEM (2010), p.  17

[66] Corruption, Accountability and Gender: Understanding the Connections, UNDP and UNIFEM, 2010, p. 17.

[67] See “Accelerating Implementation of Public Administration Reforms,” Burundi: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper II, IMF (2012).

[68] Jane K Edward, Gender Equality

[69] Ibid, p. 25

[70] 56. GEPA Uganda Case Study, UNDP (2012), p. 16.

[71] GEPA Botswana Case Study, UNDP (2012), p. 24.

[72]  Europe’s Institute of Leadership and Management released a study in 2011 which revealed that women report having lower confidence in regard to their careers while the study found that men were more confident across all age groups, with 70 percent of males having high or very high levels of self-confidence, compared to 50 percent of the women surveyed. Half of women managers admitted to feelings of self-doubt about their performance and career, but only 31 percent of men reported the same. The study also found that this lack of confidence extends to a more cautious approach to applying for jobs and promotions: 20 percent of men said they would apply for a role despite only partially meeting its job description, compared to 14 percent of women. Other studies referred to in “The Confidence Gap” article by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman on 14 April 2014, in The Atlantic, highlight that men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both.

[73]  Adapted from Restore or Reform: UN Support to Core Government Functions in the Aftermath of Conflict, UNDP, 20 March 2014

[74] Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, “Inclusion and Equality: Why Women’s Leadership Matters,” National Assembly of Wales, Pierhead Session series of lectures, 11 April 2012

[75][75] Most of these recommendations were drawn from a Report of the Expert Group Meeting – EGM – general policy recommendations on Equal Participation of Women and Men in Decision-Making Processes,

with Particular Emphasis on Political Participation and Leadership – Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia 24 – 27 October 2005 – Division for the Advancement of Women. Some have been adopted from UNDP GEPA Global Report on Gender Equality and Public Administration, May 2014 while others  were distilled out from United States Institute of Peace – SPECIAL REPORT 289, DECEMBER 2011, BY NADA MUSTAFI ALI, ‘Gender and State Building in South Sudan’

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