With International Women's Day taking place on Wednesday 8 March, access to power, inclusivity and effective participation for women in the implementation of the Revitalised peace agreement remain a challenge.
Speaking during a workshop convened by the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring & Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) in collaboration with the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) and the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), RJMEC Chairperson, Amb. Maj. Gen. Charles Tai Gituai said:
"In spite of the fact that Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on the role of women in conflict resolution and peace processes, which calls for the adoption of gender perspectives, especially of women's and girls' needs in peace agreements, and their implementation mechanisms, and for the protection and respect of their rights, women continue to face obstacles in the realisation of this aspiration, and do so during the implementation of the Revitalised Peace Agreement."
The UNSCR 1325, which was passed in the year 2000, is the first resolution to link women's experiences of conflict to the international peace and security agenda, focusing attention on the disproportionate impact of conflict on women, and calling for women's engagement in conflict resolution and peace building.
In his address to the participants, Amb. Gituai noted that lack to proper access to power, inclusivity and effective participation in the peace process and gender bias, continue to hinder advancement of women in South Sudan.
Unless such challenges are adequately addressed, he said, perspectives and concerns of women will be overlooked in politics as well as in the implementation of the Roadmap of the R-ARCSS.
"This therefore, calls for women to be respected and not to be ignored or undermined, and women should be assertive in making their voices heard," he said.
Additionally, as the Revitilised Transitional Government of National Unity continues to implement the Roadmap, Amb. Gituai called for the inclusion of women in key intstitutions such as the Political Parties Council, the National Elections Commission and the National Constitutional Review Commission.
Also related to the Constitution-making process., he said, is the establishment of the Preparatory Sub-Committee for the National Constitutional Conference, and recruitment of the Constitutional Drafting Committee.
Amb. Gituai said, the gender provisions of the Agreement enhances the inclusion and empowerment of women, as they cover the participation and representation of women in decision‐making positions, in all governmental bodies, and institutions and mechanisms that drive political, economic, social and judicial reforms, as well as the constitution-making process.
"This remains equally valid and important in the Roadmap," he said.
The Agreement mandates 35% level of women's participation in such bodies, and the nominees to these bodies need to reflect the gender, political, social, ethnic, religious, and regional diversity of South Sudan.
"RJMEC takes these considerations very seriously, and as we conduct our monitoring and evaluation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement, we will ensure that these parameters get the proper level of attention," Amb. Gituai said.
Amb. Gituai noted provisions in the Revitalised Peace Agreement which refer to the prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, including measures to prevent gender-based violence in general and sexual violence in particular.
Further, he continued, "it is evident that the letter and spirit of the gender provisions in the Revitalized Peace Agreement are deep and far-reaching, and aimed at creating a conducive environment for women in South Sudan to actively participate in the political, economic and social life of their country."
In his conclusion, Amb. Gituai called for the recognition of the role and value of women in all aspects.
"Women are capable in decision-making, especially those affecting the social fabric and the environment, and they share information well. They bring additional perspectives, especially on issues that affect other women and girls. Women also provide holistic approaches and dimensions in today's complex and evolving challenges in all spheres," he said.
The workshop brought together over 60 South Sudanese women under the theme "understanding the Roadmap and women's participation in implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS)."