Newly elected members of parliament from Western Equatoria State Legislative Assembly in Southern Sudan took part today in a one-day gender awareness workshop in the state capital Yambio.
The 48 parliamentarians were introduced to basic gender concepts, the importance of gender responsive budgeting and the importance of monitoring government programmes for gender equality and empowerment.
“This workshop has reminded us about the pains, stress, marginalization and discrimination that women have gone through,” said Deputy Speaker of Western Equatoria Legislative Assembly Stephen Elias Kayanga. “I think as law makers we can come up with laws that can protect both our women and girls in this state.”
Deputy Chairperson for Public Service in the assembly, Margaret Fozia Emmanuel, said the workshop highlighted the role of women in making laws to protect themselves as well as men in society.
In a lively discussion, the participants explored ways women have been subjected to discrimination and violence. They also learned how to adopt a gender inclusive language in their assembly discussions.
In line with the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan, which stipulates that local government should ensure gender mainstreaming, 14 of the elected parliamentarians in the state's assembly are women.
UNMIS Gender Affairs Officer Ruth Kibiti called on women leaders to act as role models for girls in the state. “We encourage women leaders to develop a new style of leadership that can develop confidence in the leadership of women.”
The training is the first of a series planned to build the capacity of state legislative assembly members to mainstream gender into policies and laws. Additional training sessions will be conducted in Eastern and Central Equatoria states.