The First Gender Task Force in South Kordofan State:

  A New Window of Opportunities



Kadugli, 11 September 2007 - This week the first Ministerial Gender Task Force in South Kordofan state was established. The Task Force is composed of 45 civil servants, 25 of which are women, selected from nine state ministries, in addition to the Legislative Council, the State Judiciary and the Office of the Governor.

Like in many states and areas of Sudan, a large number of women in South Kordofan have little access to health and education, and limited access to various resources. Women’s health is threatened by harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation and yet their limited participation in the decision-making mechanisms deprive them from voicing their concerns. Combined with two decades of conflict that have consumed much of the country’s resources, these factors have played a major role in slowing down the process of empowering women.

Today, out of South Kordofan's 20,120 civil servants, only one woman occupies a decision-making position at the level of Director General. With eight women in the State Interim Legislative Council and one woman in the State Cabinet, women’s under-representation in the political spheres is another disempowering factor.

However, the contribution of women on Southern Kordofan’s economy is quite significant. Women are credited for contributing directly to at least half of the agricultural products as they work up to 15 hours per day and yet they have less access to land, credit, marketing facilities as well as health and agricultural extension services, advice and packages.
To help identify gender mainstreaming challenges, opportunities and necessary actions, UNDP organised during 25th to 26th August 2007 a gender audit of ministries dealing with the following issues: health; education; economy and investment; local governance and civil service; culture, information, youth and sports; rural development and water resources; and social welfare, women and children.
As a follow up to this gender audit exercise that was organized in partnership with the state Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Children (MOSWWC), UNDP conducted a workshop that helped validate the audit results and develop gender mainstreaming action plans.

South Kordofan’s first Gender Task Force
The Gender Task Force is composed of 25 women and 20 men, all working as civil servants in South Kordofan. The Task Force members were selected from the above-mentioned ministries, in addition to the Legislative Council, the State Judiciary and the Office of the Governor. They will represent their respective institutions in the gender mainstreaming process and will carry out the following functions:
- Train civil servants in each public sector organization on gender issues
- Engage in advocacy, lobbying and networking activities for the promotion of gender concerns in the State
- Participate and audit the gender-responsiveness of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development policies, Programmemes and projects
- Participate and audit the gender-responsiveness of Ministerial and state budgets
- Develop and disseminate sector-based gender mainstreaming guidelines.
- Identify gender challenges and opportunities in public institutions through “in-house” gender needs assessments
- Develop gender policies for public institutions.
- Develop and support the implementation of gender integration action plans in public institutions.
- Participate in the preparation and dissemination of Gender Behavioral Change and Communication materials.
- Contribute to the monthly Gender Task Force meeting organized by MOSWWC.
- Collaborate with other organizations (both governmental and non-governmental) to promote gender equality in South Kordofan State.

UNDP’s Efforts Towards Achieving the MDGs
The Millennium Development Goal No.3 aims “to promote gender equality and empower women”. To support the full participation of Sudanese women in the political and economic lives, UNDP’s role is to also ensure that the national and state plans and strategies mainstream gender.
In South Kordofan, UNDP’s support to the establishment of the Gender Task Force is part of the Democratic Governance and Capacity Building project. One of the project’s key goals is to support the mainstreaming of gender in both Governmental and Civil Society Organizations in South Kordofan through the following actions:
- Develop a gender capacity training curriculum
- Organize and conduct the Gender Training of Trainers for the members of the Gender Task Force
- Provide the MOSWWC with the necessary equipment such as computers, printers, and photocopiers
- Provide funding to cover direct Gender training cost.
- Work with the United Nations Mission In Sudan (UNMIS) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) to recruit a UN Volunteer National Gender expert to serve in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Children
- Provide technical support for the development of Gender policies, laws and action plans.
- Provide backstopping, mentoring and coaching support

A Step Towards Affirmative Action
The support provided by the Government of South Kordofan state to this initiative stems from its eagerness to improve the situation of women in the area. It is also a response to the call of the State Interim Constitution that was ratified in December 2006, emphasizing the rights of women in social and political spheres. The Constitution also calls for positive discrimination, also known as the “affirmative action”, in order to increase the representation of women in areas of employment, education, business, and decision-making positions from which they have been historically excluded. To this end, the government has tasked the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Children (MOSWWC) with setting up the structures and process needed for mainstreaming gender at state, locality, and community levels. These policy steps mark a new window of opportunity for women in South Kordofan. However, much work remains to be done for gender equality in South Kordofan as well as the rest of the country.

Gender Mainstreaming
“Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or Programmemes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making the concerns and experiences of women as well as of men an integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and Programmemes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal of mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality.” - United Nations Economic and Social Council, 1997

For more information, please contact:
Lealem Berhanu Dinku; Senior Technical Advisor, UNDP Sudan - Democratic Governance, Kadugli Offce, lealem.berhanu@undp.org
Aicha Elbasri; Communications Manager, UNDP Sudan, aicha.elbasri@undp.org


 
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