Source: Sudan Tribune
Participants in a women's only peace conference in South Sudan's Jonglei state took the drastic step of saying they would leave their homes and refrain from child bearing if men in their communities continued to seek violent solutions to ongoing conflicts in the troubled region rather than peaceful dialogue.

They also demanded that women be given greater involvement in peace talks and political decision making processes, saying more needed to be done to arrest tensions and spiralling conflict in their communities.

In a communique to the Jonglei's government, the women outlined 20 key recommendations aimed at bringing peace to their communities and the state at large.

The recommendations, largely relating to education, security, infrastructure and rights, were the outcome of the five-day Jonglei state women's peace conference held from 12-17 March and attended by women from 11 counties.

The event was held with the support of USAID and the Jonglei Women's Association (JWA).


The statement said the female population in Jonglei had suffered enormously as a result of the country's struggle for independence and ongoing tribal conflicts in their communities, with women continuing to shoulder economic, social and psychological burdens as a result.

"We women know the burden of taking care of orphaned children and the burden of being left widows at a time when we are just beginning to form our family unions, the consequences leading to increased numbers of women living with HIV/AIDS, poverty, dependency, displacement, gender-based violence, street children and drop outs, and a large number of illiteracy amongst women," the statement read in part.

Under the recommendations the women are seeking support for the establishment of a neutral branch office in Gadiang to act as a safe house and meeting point for women fleeing conflict and violence.

"We Jonglei statewomen want to leave our homes and convene together as women in a neutral land called 'Gadiang' for two months without the men as soon as this resolution is read to them and they continue with the conflict," the statement said.

"The men have finished our children in conflicts and we find no need for child bearing anymore", it continued.


The women urged the government to do more to stem the violence in Jonglei, which they say continues to undermine the hard-won peace agreement that was reached after decades of armed conflict with its northern neighbour.

Jonglei - South Sudan's largest and most populous state - remains a flashpoint for cattle raids and tribal violence. The tenuous security situation has been worsened by the re-emergence of Murle rebel leader David Yau Yau who defected for the second time in 2011 after earlier accepting an amnesty offer and rejoining the South Sudanese army (SPLA).

In a brutal attack in February by Yau Yau militia and Murle youth, more than 100 unarmed Lou Nuer civilians, including women and children, were murdered in cold blood in the remote village of Walgak in Akobo county.

The women said now was the time to focus on developing the new nation and taking care of family and those already traumatised by the past, rather than engaging in further conflict and rivalries.

"We women have suffered economic instability as a result of war, we are looking forward to working on and in our land to improve our economic situation, and hence we have no place for another war tribal, ethnic or otherwise," the statement continued.

The women's key recommendations from the conference included training for midwives and the establishment of maternity wards in all the counties, boosting police recruitments and salary, capacity building in the agriculture sector, deployment of security forces in border areas, the introduction of laws protecting women against gender-based violence and the construction of primary and secondary schools in all counties.

They also called for NGO's and civil society organisations to pressure the government to jail youths responsible for violence and other criminal activities threatening security in the state.

The women urged the tribal communities of Nuer, Dinka, Anyuak and Murle to take an oath not to cross county borders for the purpose of fighting.

They called for the tribes to come together to break a spear amongst themselves and bury it, and to drink from a cup of blood and soil as a covenant not to kill one another again.

As part of conflict resolution measures, they want women's peace committees formed to monitor the security situation on the ground and follow up community concerns and issues.

JSW has also appealed to USAID and the government to involve women in South Sudan's other nine states to join them in "striving for peace and reduction of pain on the women of South Sudan."

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