By Emelda Siama John Lopula
World Bank has approved $70 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to boost social and economic empowerment for women in South Sudan.
The four-year project, dubbed “South Sudan Women Social and Economic Empowerment Project” (SSWSEEP), aims to support female entrepreneurs in formalizing and scaling up their business activities.
It is also to provide survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) with vital services that will enable them to recover and build their lives.
SSWSEEP will be implemented by the Ministry of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare with the support of UNWOMEN as the implementing partner.
It will cover the 10 states and two administrative areas and target 91,000 women and 5,200 adolescent girls while indirectly reaching 673,400 people, according to officials.
World Bank Director for Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, and South Sudan, Ousamane Dione, said the project will finance establishment of women’s economic centres as a space for livelihood and social skills training for both women and girls on financial literacy, basic numeracy, and value chain skills.
“Within the SSWSEEP project, there will be a women’s entrepreneurial opportunity facility that will offer small grants to 200 women and extensive training to 1,000 women entrepreneurs and help boost their contribution to economic growth,” Ousamane said.
“A range of support will also be geared towards supporting survivors of GBV through the construction of the safe house that will shelter up to 100 GBV survivors, offer livelihood training, and link the survivors to various economic empowerment activities at the center mentioned above, as well as the establishment of a national hotline that acts as a referral pathway for services required by survivors.”
He expressed that in the project about 400 to 500 social workers will be trained and accredited as professionals to handle a range of GBV cases within communities in South Sudan.
The director added that part of the funds will be used to enhance the capacity of the ministry of gender, child, and social welfare, and a new ministry will be established to give the ministry a conducive environment to carry out policy mainstreaming.
The Minister of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare for South Sudan, Aya Benjamin Warille, said that for generations, women in South Sudan have supported their families and communities by engaging in entrepreneurial activities.
But their progress has often been constrained by a mixture of prevailing social norms, institutional impediments, and insufficient access to education, training, business services, and financing, she added.
“Empowering women to participate fully in civic and economic life will make South Sudan more prosperous and peaceful. With improved financial security, other areas of women’s lives will also improve as they can easily afford health services, send their children to school, and are more likely to serve in leadership roles in their communities and become agents of change.”
However, the World Bank Manager for South Sudan, Firas Raad, said the initiative includes a cross-cutting focus on women and youth to help reduce fragility, facilitate peacebuilding, and promote inclusive development in the country.
He said it takes a holistic approach, aiming to also strengthen the public sector’s capacity to engage more actively in the areas of women’s empowerment to ensure long-term benefit for future generations of South Sudanese women and girls.
“Survivors of gender-based violence require substantial support to recover from the physical and psychological trauma that they have endured,” he said.
“The project will help expand their access to vital health services and psychosocial support and will work on strengthening the prevention of GBV; it will also help women grow their businesses and improve their livelihoods through grants, training, and technical assistance,” Firas cited.
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