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How the WWO ambassadors use networking to transform the lives of women in South Sudan

By: Sr. Viji Dali and Sr. Maureen Ogundeph

South Sudan can be regarded as a more patriarchal society than many other societies around the world with deeply conceited traditional and cultural practices that openly disadvantage women of all classes. These conditions make the women living on the periphery of the formal economy susceptible to economic deprivation and social marginalization.  Society of Daughters of Mary Immaculate (SDMIC) and its collaborators have been working with Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Camp. The Society is an apostolic union of nuns, and has been involved in apostolic and social developmental programs since 1984 in India, Africa and Asia Pacific Region.  In 2012, the congregation accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Juba to work with the vulnerable communities of his diocese particularly the war victims, women and vulnerable communities of Juba-South Sudan. Since its inception it has been serving and empowering the marginalized and the disadvantaged communities settled in IDP camps and rural areas through various socio-pastoral development programs covering the four dioceses namely Archdiocese of Juba, Wau, Malakal and Mundry in South Sudan.


Sr. Vijili Dali, a sister of the Society of Daughters of Mary Immaculate and one of the World Women’s Observatory (WWO) ambassadors ministering in South Sudan narrates how they network to transform the lives of women and society.


“We envisage mobilizing community women, young girls, and community key leaders of new zones to promote gender equality in IDP camps. We aim to provide psycho-social support, conduct skill development training, and income generation programs, and create awareness on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights that would facilitate them to cope with, enhance their self-confidence, earn skills to protect their rights, and prevent Gender Based Violence in their families and communities. Focusing on community-based health education, conducting medical camps, formal primary education for children, and promoting peace and reconciliation committees to resolve local conflicts on gender-based violence issues against women and young girls and promoting gender equality.”


Sr. Viji who participated in the WWO Africa workshop that took place in Dar Es Salaam in July 2023 shares her experience in their mission in South Sudan.


“We have witnessed and heard that women and young girls face exploitation and abuse and they contribute significantly to meeting the family needs. They are economically deprived and their poor conditions push them into further vulnerability. Youth groups who discontinued schooling are attracted to join antisocial elements and local gang groups, contributing to increased violence including Gender-based violence. Prominent forms of gender-based violence in the selected zones are sexual, physical, intimate partner violence, economic, and forced marriage. Domestic violence like wife beatings and emotional attacks increased due to economic deprivation and lack of food availability. Socioeconomic deprivation makes women vulnerable to other forms of violence and exploitation. The target Gender Based Violence victims also face sexual and reproductive health violations due to reasons like: gender inequality in families and communities, patriarchal concepts of women’s roles within the family to reproduce and nurture children, early marriage, and pregnancy often as the result of efforts to produce male offspring. Women and young girls are also often blamed for infertility, suffering ostracism, and being subjected to various human rights violations as a result.”


She underlines dedication, commitment, and networking as some of the key aspects that have kept them moving.


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