We have founded this nation upon great human sacrifices in the fight for justice and equality for all. We have a legacy of struggle centered on eliminating all the forms of marginalization suffered at the hands of successive regimes in Sudan, be they social, cultural, economic, political, religious, or racial. It is, therefore, incumbent upon a nation like ours to not allow the corruptive seed of marginalization to thrive in the form of marginalization based on gender.
It is astounding to hear some of our male contemporaries so readily label us as feminists when we mention anything to do with girls’ or women’s rights and empowerment. It seems the only essential requisite to award us that lofty title is to mention, or care for, the plight of women. The statistical fact that our country and its population are underdeveloped is undisputable. For almost half of our society that is female, the statistics of underdevelopment/neglect are alarming. Since we all agree, and repeat in our public statements, that women are the cornerstone of our society, we must act.
South Sudanese nationals, feminists or otherwise, concerned with addressing the developmental challenges facing our beloved country, cannot in good conscience ignore the plight of women in South Sudan. Moreover, feminist thought, in its many ideological waves, may well find its expression in South Sudanese politics. Moreso, if women’s issues and gender disparities continue to be regarded not as national social problems but as women’s problems. Such is not a necessary development but rather a consequential one. For it is no secret that, as Dr. John Garang used to say, “women are the marginalized of the marginalized” in our society.
It surprises me when otherwise logical men choose to relegate themselves to an awkward position deeply marred with contradictions and inconsistencies because they elect to take an adversarial position vis-à-vis women’s empowerment. When we say women are “the marginalized of the marginalized,” do we necessarily point an invisible accusatory finger at men? Is it that men have some guilty conscious leading to this defensive state of self-condemnation unsuccessfully masked by indignant sanctimonious declarations? If we read without our defensive blinds, we’d understand that women’s empowerment is key to developing our beloved South Sudan. This statement by no means discounts the importance of the development of boys and men; it just calls special attention to the plight of our women. We must know and acknowledge that the woman is the source of regeneration. Uplift her, and you will uplift a nation.
To my sisters and mothers, we must uplift our women in esteem, grace, and dignity in what we do as women of South Sudan. So that they, in all their essential walks of life, whether in the private or public sphere, gain the respect, appreciation, and platform they deserve. We may have to do this by straining our voice in demanding our place and lengthening our strides to step up to the plate. It’s the work of our generation, and it is a privilege and an inspiration to find many strong sisters and mentors on this journey. Mine is a necessary affirmation to women and a call for the solidarity of our fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons. As a people, we need to understand a simple fact – a woman gladly and gracefully carries the work essential to her family’s prosperous existence and perpetuation in all aspects of life and living, and that of community and society by extension. For society’s sake, collectively, we must ensure that the woman is strengthened, equipped, recognized, considered, balanced, cared for, and nurtured enough to contribute to the good of all while living healthy and fulfilled.
© Apuk Ayuel Mayen 2018. All rights reserved.