Empower the Women of the World’s Youngest Nation — South Sudan

Hilde Johnson – Huffington Post – Wednesday, 13 March 2013 (originally published 07 Mar)

In the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, women and girls are confronted with the formidable challenges of daily life: child marriage, gender-based violence and illiteracy. Tens of thousands of girls, up to 40 percent of the population, are forced to become child brides, denying them their right to education. The child and teenage pregnancies that follow marriage put these girls at grave risk. South Sudan is one of the most dangerous places for any girl or woman to give birth; it has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

The UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) is, together with partners, working to reverse the practice of child marriage and prevent gender based violence. Through a number of approaches and initiatives, we are mobilizing communities, NGOs, and the Government as change agents in this effort.

The UN has also focused on the empowerment of South Sudanese girls and women, encouraging their active participation in civil society and government. In this regard, noticeable progress has been made in the area of political participation. Women currently make up almost 30 percent of the legislature, with more than 25 percent holding ministerial positions. According to the Government’s own statistics, in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, there are more women than men in the State Assembly, an example that should provide as an example for the rest of the country . . .

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