In South Sudan, Women’s Rights cannot wait for COVID-19 or Peace

BULLEN CHOL/AFP via Getty Images

This women’s month, we should celebrate all the girls and women who remain resilient and continue to fight for their rights and the rights of others, despite all the challenges that we faced before and are now facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Around May 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was becoming more and more serious, a group of women, including women’s rights activists and some men took to the streets in Juba to demand justice for an 8-year-old victim of rape. Prior to the protest, as we organised and mobilised, we were advised to stop and forget about the protest. We were told that a gathering would be considered as political and also against the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. This did not stop us from going ahead with our protest because rape is war on a girl’s or woman’s body and that is political too!

Women’s leadership during COVID-19

EJShirleaf

Today, our world is beset with increases in conflicts, the growing threat of violent extremism and a young population that is increasingly less hopeful about living in peace. We simply cannot continue this way. It is time to change. Silencing the guns requires a multitude of actors and commitments, including the involvement of women through the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, which remains a key ingredient for peace.

Domestic and gender-based violence: A case of double jeopardy

ACCORD COVID-19 Infographic

Since the introduction of lockdown measures there has been a dramatic increase in domestic and gender-based violence. Women and children confined to the home with violent partners and family are at higher risk during periods of social-distancing and lockdowns. Places of shelter and protection are inaccessible because of being at full capacity, lack funds or may be repurposed, limiting options for women and children. Domestic and Gender based violence will continue to increase in proportion to the rising tensions in the health, socio-economic and other sectors.