Sudan: What Lies Ahead For Women?

SUDAN’S REFERENDUM THIS MONTH IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN: they make up about 65 percent of the population in South Sudan, but lack the necessary political representation necessary to stop violence, discrimination and abuse.

Many women voting in Sudan last week are eager for separation, seeing in an independent South Sudan the opportunity for greater freedom and rights.

But progress towards that goal may be harder than ever. In December, over 60 Sudanese women’s rights activists were arrested for protesting the lashing of a woman by police. (The video of the flogging was widely reported).

How you can help:

Stand with Sudanese women at Women for Women International.

Related articles and reports:
The SIHA Network (The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa) is an advocate and supporter of women’s organizations. Read their reports on Sudanese women and democracy.

Open Democracy’s piece explores The Sudan referendum and women’s citizenship.

Many Challenges Face Sudan As Referendum Nears

sudan-referendum

Photp: AFP

THIS JANUARY, SOUTHERN SUDAN WILL VOTE in a referendum to determine whether the region remains part of the country or becomes a new, independent nation. The referendum was part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) agreed to after twenty years of civil war, which ended in 2005.

Now, word comes that Sudan is delaying voter registration just as the international diplomacy machine, led by the U.N., prepares to visit Sudan next week. The countdown to the referendum is about 100 days.

Meanwhile a host of interrelated problems loom. Southern Sudanese living in the North worry about forced expulsions and fears of another war. And there is also the ongoing crisis in Darfur.

The Sudanese government is likely to take advantage of the international community’s preoccupation with the upcoming referendum and shift attention away from Darfur, said Laura Jones and Omer Ismail of Enough Project. Reporting for The Christian Science Monitor, Jones asserted that the situation will worsen “if the international community doesn’t stop addressing one challenge in Sudan at the expense of the other.”

During Sudan’s deadly civil war, in which 2 million were killed and 4 million displaced, Darfur dominated headlines. As is usually the case with high-profile crises, celebrities got involved, organizing nonprofits and becoming outspoken advocates to bring pressure for a solution.

Today that crisis shows no signs of improving. According to Human Rights Watch, fighting between rebel groups and the government has again increased. Sanctions could be ahead if humanitarian access and improved security are not part of the new Sudan.

News Sources

To follow local news about the upcoming referendum, The Sudan Tribune is an independent site based in France with good coverage of all sides of the story.

Sudan.Net provides coverage from English and Arabic language sources.

Organizations and Campaigns

The Enough Project works to prevent genocide with a focus on Africa. They recently published a new report on Sudan.

Sudan365 is a global campaign focussed on the referendum and wants to ensure that human rights are protected going forward. Their current media campaign is the “Beat for Peace”: