Source: Xperedon                                                                                                                                                                                                                        South Sudan's decision to ratify UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is a step in the right direction, says aid organisation.

The Convention was formally ratified by South Sudan's National Legislative Assembly last week.

A country that becomes a State party to the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women accepts a legal obligation to counteract discrimination against women.

Care International hopes the ratification will help improve rights and opportunities of South Sudan's women.

Care International's Aimee Ansari, says: "The government of South Sudan is making a strong statement in ratifying this Convention, that the people of this country do not want women to be discriminated against.

"While we welcome South Sudan's ratification of this important UN Convention, stopping the violence against women all over the country's the most urgent need.

"If the government is serious about ending all forms of discrimination against women, then one of the first things they should do is to end the conflict that has destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of women, children and families across the country."

South Sudan became the world's newest country in July 2011, gaining independence from Sudan following a six-year peace process and decades of conflict. However, the country has continued to face widespread violence.

Care recently published a report, The Girl Has No Rights: Gender-based violence in South Sudan highlighting deliberate acts of violence and abuse that have been committed against women in South Sudan since the major outbreak of conflict in December 2013.

The charity reports the direct targeting of women during the conflict with violence and abuse, including murder.

Care is one of many organisations providing food, water and health support to women and girls affected by the crisis in South Sudan, and is also running anti-gender-based violence campaigns across the country.

Against the backdrop of sustained violence in the country, areas of South Sudan are now at risk of developing famine, says the UN. Since fighting began in 2013, over 450,000 South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries and 1.3 million have become internally displaced.

Care is amongst the charities urging a peaceful resolution so that more development aid can get through.

"This crisis is not a hopeless situation. In some areas of the country where humanitarian agencies like Care have access to provide assistance to the affected populations, we are actually starting to see slight improvements," says Ansari.

"However, there are many people that remain largely cut off from humanitarian assistance. Women are risking their lives against armed men to walk eight hours to get access to food for themselves and their children."

Care is supporting 50 health-care facilities in South Sudan and provides medical supplies, nutrition, water and sanitation programmes.

As well as NGOs, funding for South Sudan's emergency operation is provided by other international agencies including UK Aid, US Aid, the EC, and the UN.

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