South Sudan women call for unity ahead of elections

A cross-section of women in Juba on Friday said their unity is paramount ahead of December general elections.

A cross-section of South Sudanese women in Juba on Friday said their unity is paramount ahead of December general elections.

President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar and other political leaders signed a peace agreement in 2018 that ended a devastating civil war.

At the end of the transitional period, the country is expected to conduct a general election in December 2024. 

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on International Women’s Day, Zera Agnes, a resident of Juba, emphasized the crucial role women play in decision-making for the upcoming election. She stressed the need for women to understand their roles, share their ideas, and actively participate in decision-making processes.

Highlighting the diverse levels of women, ranging from those in positions of power to grassroots communities, including civil society, media, and other sectors, Agnes stated, “All these women are supposed to come together and unite as one common goal called elections because when elections come, that’s when democracy also comes. When there is democracy, that is when women’s voices will be easily heard.”

She further urged women to overcome challenges and unite with a shared objective. Agnes emphasized, “I am asking the women to come with one common goal. It’s very hard for people to unite for one goal, but their only goal should be elections because elections will rescue their children from going to wars.”

Anna Acel Ambrose emphasized the crucial role of women in raising awareness during elections and advocated for peace and stability in South Sudan. She expressed optimism about the upcoming elections, acknowledging the challenges but highlighting the significant impact women can have by fostering awareness among the public.

Acel remarked, “The coming elections bring good news for women. Despite the difficulties, women can contribute significantly by raising awareness and ensuring that people are informed about the upcoming election and their responsibilities.”

She stressed the importance of peace and stability, stating, “We need peace in this country, and if the elections bring peace and stability to South Sudan, that is what we, the women of South Sudan, desire. We need to be ready, peaceful, and united, transcending tribal differences.”

In a parallel sentiment, Sarah Kiko urged women across various sectors to unite and speak with a unified voice to enhance their strength. She emphasized the necessity for women in politics to support those in civil society and media, fostering strong connections and collaboration. Kiko emphasized, “They need to speak a common language, unite themselves, and establish a strong connection. Women in politics should encourage those in civil society and media, pushing together to strengthen their collective voice.”

Civil society activist Merekaje Lona urged women to clearly identify their interests, whether in participating in the elections management body or as contestants. She emphasized the importance of understanding the election framework to effectively prepare.

Lona advised, “For those aspiring to contest, start building your manifestos. For those interested in electoral management roles, stay informed about the development and catch up with the recruitment process.”

Highlighting the significance of preparation and voting, Lona reiterated, “The most important thing for women is to be prepared and vote because our votes count. Whoever we choose to vote for should prioritize and understand our concerns.”

Meanwhile, Juba resident Stephen Oryem encouraged women to unite and collaborate, particularly with female politicians. He stressed the importance of learning from experienced individuals and actively participating in the electoral process. Oryem emphasized the need for coordination among women to enhance their engagement and impact in the elections.