By Philip Buda Ladu
The Ministry of Gender, Child Social Welfare in collaboration with United Nation Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Gender Affairs unit and partners have launched an initiative to improve women roles in the security sector dabbed as “South Sudan Security Sector Women’s Network”.
Esther Ikere Eluzai, the Undersecretary for the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare said as a ministry they are the Gender Machinery and they are advocating for a gender responsive security sector and that becomes an entry point for them through the implementation of the revitalized agreement.
“Since we are implementing the Revitalized agreement, the agreement has called for security sector transformation and we can’t do transformation without engendering the transformation so it gives us an entry point as a ministry to begin working with security institutions” Ihere said.
She said they have been working together with the security sector for almost a year, “working with security sector institutions taking them through gender mainstreaming but also trying to look at the issues affecting women in the security sector”.
Ihere said they have come to understand that there are numerous challenges faced by women in the security sector which need to be addressed and they can only be addressed when they work collectively as a group.
“Single individuals approaching the leadership for change are not effective methods but we believe that when women come together as a group they are able to put their agenda together and they are able to raise their issues collectively and so we proposed that it will be good to have a networks which bring them together in the security sector” Ihere hinted.
“We are advocating for different networks in the sectors for the Police, Prison Service Wildlife, Civil Defense and also for the National Security Service and the SSPDF, but before we do that we have planned to launch the national one and I think today it has been a very good day as a government to have launched the South Sudan Women in Security Sector Network” officially launched by the Assistant IGP for Social Welfare in the Ministry of Interior” Ihere affirmed.
Vedad Imsirovic, the UNMISS Gender Affairs Officer said as South Sudan is in a critical pace of implementing the Revitalized Agreement, and now with the now unity government, reconstituted national legislature, many important decisions will be made at the highest level of government in the country and they thought that women in security sector should have their voices heard.
He said the idea of establishing the Women in Security Sector Network came as a result of the need to see women in the security sector take part in the process of making important polices in the country.
“The main purpose is just to improve the status of women in security sector as you know their status are not so good they are not considered in very important procedures like in rank contributions, promotion and we think because they are not visible enough” Vedad said.
“With this network and this Executive board that will from tomorrow start working, I think visibility of women in security sector of the Republic of South Sudan will be much better, their status will be improved and therefore their rights and needs will be made” he underscored.
The UNMISS Gender Affairs Officer said the new women network will have to make sure that women’s rights and needs are reflected in the new country’s laws being reviewed as a result of the series of reforms brought by the revitalized agreement.
Vedad further said the network will have a significant role on the ground to fight for better treatment and better women status within their institutions so that tomorrow they are considered for the ranks, promotions and eventually to see more women in commanding structures.
Lt. Col. Harriet Fouzia Ginaba an officer in the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) working at Juba Teaching Hospital in the HIV program as a Pharmacist and also a member of the Women Affairs in the Army has been elected as the director of the newly launched Women in Security Sector Network.
Fouzia expressed delight on the trust and responsibility bestowed upon her to lead the network as its first Chairperson or Director.
Ginaba said it came just as a surprise to her that she got elected as the first Director of the Network, and being her first time she’s going to start just like a new born baby.
“If a baby is born slowly she will get used to other things. So it is not my plan and it’s not the plan of human beings but it’s God’s plan, as from the very beginning that Jeremiah was not born to be like what he is but it was chosen by God from his mother’s womb like today God has chosen me to work in this Network I am really happy” Ginaba appreciated the trust bestowed on her.
Ginaba said the most important thing she’s going to do in the Network is to lay down her objectives to guide the work that they are going to do in the future.
“Like the network in the security sector I am going to empower women to give the rights of women as our President did by giving us 35 percent. this 35% we are not only going to take it and stay. This time we have to work for not only that 35% by work for 90 percent through our hard work” she said.
She said forming this network seek to ensure the needs and voices of women are heard and their rights given to them.
“What I want first is capacity building for the women in the army and I want to make sure that they do what they are assigned to. And to my fellow women where they are please turn up do your work if you something you will get its fruits” Ginaba encouraged her fellow women.
She advised the women in leadership position both in the security sector and civilians to always look back for the other women that are looking off to them and awaiting to step to their shoes.