Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly Delegation Concludes Study Tour to Egypt


Juba, July 7 2009: A delegation representing the Committee on Gender, Social Welfare, Youth and Sports in the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) participated in a study tour to Egypt from 20 – 26 June.

The aim of the visit was to enable the members of the Committee to examine gender laws in Egypt and draw lessons from the Egyptian experience in gender equality and mainstreaming in all aspects of life.

The visit to Egypt was the last stop in a series of similar tours to South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana. The overarching objective of the tours was to enable the nascent Government of Southern Sudan to learn from the experiences of these countries and to help it formulate gender polices for the South.

“For us to do this we thought of learning from other nations that have gone ahead of us in this field,” explained Honorable Philip Koto, member of the Assembly’s Committee on Gender, Social Welfare, Youth and Sports. He said, “The Committee has finalized preparatory steps to present an act to the Assembly in a step to establish the Southern Sudan Coordinating Committee on Gender Equality and Development.”

The tours have been organized by the SSLA with support from UNDP, in a collaborative endeavor to promote the attainment of gender equality at all levels of political participation and decision-making.

Gender equality is lacking in Southern Sudan due to the protracted civil war that ended in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Cultural norms also impinge on gender equity in the South leaving women in a desperate state of inequality compared to their male counterparts.

“Despite the political dividends offered by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, our women are still lagging behind,” said member of the delegation, Honorable Debora Ajok. She said, “We still experience gender imbalances in the way women are treated in Southern Sudan; more girls are denied access to education in order to baby-sit their younger siblings, help in domestic work, and at the age of twelve or thirteen are given out in marriage and become child mothers. This stereotype cultural mind set must be changed through well researched gender policies and laws.”

The Committee has already produced a draft bill on Gender Policies for the South and intends to submit it to the Assembly for discussion and enactment before the end of the year. “Along with UNDP’s parliamentary capacity-building assistance, the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA) has also assigned a lawyer to help with drafting the Gender Act for the South,” said Honorable Philip, adding that “we have a thirteen-page document with thirty-one articles already at hand awaiting final touches and submission to the Assembly.”

UNDP has been working closely with the Government of Southern Sudan in building the capacity of the SSLA and the Assemblies in the ten southern states, particularly the Committee on Gender, Social Welfare, Youth and Sports.



 
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