Eighty women residents of Khartoum met over two workshops to discuss women’s priorities for the transition and beyond. The workshops in Khartoum launched a nation-wide consultative process organized by the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission (UNITAMS) in partnership with the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The process will consist of two consultations in every state, with each consultation bringing together women from civil society organizations, political parties, women’s groups, armed movements, internally displaced persons as well as academics, experts and active members of professional associations and networks. The consultations will also target the women working in informal sectors, such as tea and food sellers, domestic workers, as well as home caretakers.
“Building on the outcomes of the series of dialogues we organized last August and September, this project is designed to lay the foundation for an inclusive national women’s agenda. This will enable the protection of the gains women have made since the December revolution, ensure their priorities are reflected in the agenda of any upcoming transitional period, and support the design of transitional arrangements conducive to this objective,” said Christina Shahin, UNITAMS’s Senior Gender Adviser.
Participants discussed the challenges and opportunities facing the formulation of a unified women’s agenda, including lessons learnt from the previous transitional period, generational gaps between women rights’ advocates, and the absence of platforms for diverse women’s groups to engage in constructive dialogues.
Participants highlighted the centrality of women’s meaningful participation to achieve these priorities, whether in legislative bodies or the executive government. They further emphasized the impact of supporting women’s presence and representation in other areas.
“When there are more women in law enforcement bodies, more women will be encouraged to report violence. When there are more women doctors, more women will be encouraged to seek medical assistance when they need it,” one participant said.
Common priorities emerged in the workshops for women in Khartoum including the need for inclusive security, equitable economic development, and improved access to basic services such as health and education. Participants also stressed the necessity of prioritizing gender-sensitive legislation and budgeting to address the distinct needs and suffering of women in light of the ongoing political, economic and humanitarian crisis in Sudan. For example, participants in both workshops raised period poverty and recommended measures to make available menstrual hygiene products. They also explored ways to extend legal protections to women in the informal economy. Discussions across consultations highlighted the issue of violence against women, especially domestic violence and the urgent need to set in place legislative and institutional support.
The dialogue also tackled the protection needs of particularly vulnerable women in the communities of internally displaced persons and refugees, and in the parts of Sudan that are emerging from armed conflict. The participants further prioritized achieving comprehensive peace and the need to combat hate speech, racism, and ethnic discrimination, and highlighted the disproportional impact of these practices on women.
Participants linked the success of a women’s agenda to the political willingness of a new transitional government, but also underscored the need for solidarity between women’s groups within a larger movement to lead effective advocacy.
“The agenda does not have to only consist of common issues related to mutual suffering. Instead, it must be a rights-based agenda that includes all women’s rights issues even when localized to a culture or a context or a region,” said one young participant. “The causes don’t have to be shared. We don’t need consensus. There is a sisterhood that forces us to recognize all women’s rights issues as part of our agenda,” another participant added.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).