By William Madouk Garang
Government through Ministry of Investment together with its partners; Mara Muhim Initiative, Center for Inclusive Governance Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) has yesterday launched the first-ever South Sudanese Women Grand Trade exhibition.
The trade fair exhibited coined-handcraft products such as beads, necklaces, earrings, beauty products, perfumes, oils, walking sticks, local dress (Kitenge) and bed covers among others under the theme “Building Women in Business”.
Speaking during the launch of exhibition, minister of Investment, Dhieu Mathok called on women to change stories and venture into business sector.
Minister Dheiu said that at his docket, government is reviewing laws that will persuade investors into the country, and once it is enacted into law, they will make sure that business women are favoured.
“We want to see our women capture business; we want them to compete with foreigners who are now in the business sector. Especially with this handcraft which represent the cultural aspect of South Sudan,” the minister said.
Dr. Dheiu stated that the trade fair should not only be Juba but must be extended all over the country.
He added that government will alert state governors to allocate land for these women market.
According to the founder of ‘Mara Muhim’ initiative – ‘a woman is important’, Dr. Anne Itto said trade fair is like a forum where women can work together actively, sell their products and learn skills from each other.
Dr. Itto who represents South Sudan in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) said, the exhibition will take place every Saturday at Mara Muhim premises opposite former Vivacell office.
“This business does not only bring income but it creates safety for families. It puts food on the table, it sends children to schools and especially now when salaries are not being paid for six months and if paid some are SSP 3,000 which is not enough,” Dr. Itto said.
The MP called on government to remove all obstacles from women entrepreneurs but instead energize and support them to contribute in nation building for better future.
Meanwhile, in the same event, representative of British Embassy in Juba, James Oates called on lawmakers, government and partners to work together in tackling norms that restrict women involvement in business.
“In order for trade to flourish, in order for economy empowerment to lead to development what South Sudan needs is to be at peace, the R-ARCSS needs to be implemented, the threat of violence against women need to be replaced with the opportunity of prosperity,” Oates said.
The diplomat also called on parties to the revitalized peace agreement to get on with peace implementation and nation building so that South Sudanese female entrepreneurs rise and prosper.
Mara Muhim is a new organization – with a vision to achieve empowered and inspired confident women leaders driving with dignity in an environment free of violence, discrimination, and contributing as equal partners to social, economic and political development.
The organization is set to create a Centre for women’s empowerment where training, mentorship, sharing of ideas, discussions, conversations and exhibitions shall take place.