A leading member of the women's group of the Rumbek State legislature in southern Sudan says there was a large turnout of women during Sudan's general elections.
Adak Costa Mapuor said it demonstrates their commitment towards entrenching democratic reforms. She said a constitutional provision that reserves 25% of all political positions for women is a significant boost to women's participation in making public policy.
“In a general sense,” she said, “women always have a role in everything to do with development. In (reconstruction) of the south Sudan, I'm sure women will play a bigger role by creating stability and peace among the community because they are always peace ambassadors.”
Some womens groups complain that despite the constitutional provision reserving a quarter of all government positions for women, only about five percent now hold cabinet positions in the Government of Southern Sudan lead by President Salva Kiir.
President Kiir has often pledged his commitment to “fully” empower women. He recently vowed to support efforts toward ensuring women make a meaningful contribution to national development.
Legislator Mapuor said leaders can help encourage women's influence and participation in government.
“This thing depends on the policies and whoever is going to rule south Sudan,” Mapuor said.
At a 2007 conference organized by the United Nations Development Program, the southern Sudanese legislator said women were adversely affected by the country's civil war and help is needed to ensure their fundamental rights.
Mapuor said women need more than legal guarantees.
“It depends on the nature of politics because the law is there but … to put it into implementation is another matter,” Mapuor said.
She said there is an ongoing awareness and education programs to encourage women participation in politics.