As in many post-conflict countries, the roles played by women during Sudan’s long-lasting liberation struggle continue to go unrecognised. Thousands of women joined the southern liberation struggle in response to a political situation that affected whole communities, leaving the comfort and security of their homes not just to accompany their husbands but to fight for freedom, democracy, equity, justice, rights and dignity.
As well as playing roles in the fighting, women acted as mothers, teachers and nurses, and filled numerous other roles during the war. The long-standing struggle for the liberation of South Sudan severely altered traditional gender roles as well as the societal structure as a whole. Women also suffered during the war. An increase in HIV, hunger and violence, particularly sexual violence, characterised their lives in Sudan as well as in exile for many years. Life in the post-conflict period continues to be challenging, as women try to carve out a meaningful life in a tenuous peace.
This volume documents the lives of different groups of women in South Sudan. It seeks to understand the contributions made by a range of women both during the conflict and today. It describes the women of South Sudan: who they are, what they have experienced, what they hope and feel, what they experienced in the war, and whether the end of the war has brought meaningful change.
Each chapter examines a different group of women. The book will look at mothers, teachers, former combatants, women in political and community leadership positions, sex workers, victims of sexual violence, HIV-positive women and vulnerable women.
By integrating data from in-depth interviews with local women, authors tell the stories of these women within the current socio-economic and political context of South Sudan. These narratives both document the past, and at the same time capture women’s hopes for the future.
The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation’s (IJR) work in this field has highlighted that documentation, oral history and history education are powerful tools to stimulate a process of rebuilding communities that practise human rights and tolerance and that are able to transcend social identities based on particular affiliations.
About the Editors
Friederike Bubenzer is Project Leader of the Great Horn Desk in the Transitional Justice in Africa Programme at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa. In this capacity she has developed and contributed to a range of transitional-justice-related processes with communities and policy makers in Uganda, South Sudan and Zimbabwe. She holds an MA in development studies from the University of Cape Town, and undergraduate degrees from the University of Stellenbosch.
Orly Stern is a human-rights lawyer and researcher from South Africa. She completed her LL.M in international human rights law at Harvard Law School, and holds degrees in psychology and law from the University of Cape Town. She is currently a fellow with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. Orly works as an independent researcher, researching issues related to conꐀict, gender, HIV and human rights. Her past projects have included research for the UN about HIV risk and programming for former combatants and women associated with armed groups, and research focusing on South Africa’s sexual offenses legislation. She has lived in Sierra Leone, where she worked for their Human Rights Commission and later for the UN Development Programme, looking at human rights and access to justice issues.
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