South Sudanese women up their numbers in EALA membership

<strong>South Sudanese women up their numbers in EALA membership</strong>
Dr. Anna Itto, Chairperson of EALA South Sudan Chapter (photo credit: Gurtong Trust)

The female candidates have posted an impressive performance in the second parliamentary election for South Sudan’s representatives in the East Africa Legislative Assembly, nearly matching the number of their male counterparts.

The national parliament selected four female candidates in the primary elections held by the various parties to the revitalized peace agreement.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement nominated three of the female candidates during their primaries, and they all advanced to the final round as well as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition female nominees.

In contrast, SPLM’s five EALA seats have been overwhelmingly filled by women, breaking a record for female politicians dominating a political space for the first time in comparison to previous instances; particularly with the SPLM.

Rebecca Joshua, the SPLM chief whip in the National Legislative Assembly, posited in an interview with The City Review on Monday that her party nominated candidates without discrimination along the gender factor and performed well.

For Rebecca, the three female candidates won the seats on merit and this was not in reciprocity by SPLM make up for the earlier perceived violations of the 35 per cent affirmative action granted to women by the 2018 peace deal.

She stated that during the party primaries, candidates were given additional time to voice their grievances and persuade voters to support their positions. Rebecca argued that three women from the SPLM and the SPLM-IO were accorded the right through a democratic, just, and open process.

 “There is nothing called affirmative action here even in our primaries in the SPLM house. We put forward the list of the candidates and we don’t mind whether they were men or women.”

“Now it is not even tokenism but this is something you do yourself and you get it. This time they got it by merits.

 ‘‘I appreciate the women and men and the leadership of this country and of my party also for putting the trust on the women. It is not compensation, it is merit; it is a democratic process.”

Additionally, one more woman from SPLM-IO won the EALA seat among the nine candidates and Rebecca lauded this as a positive step towards gender parity.

‘‘Now we are moving from 35 per cent to 50 per cent, and this is good for our country,” Rebecca said.

Rebecca said the election of the four women to the EALA is an indication that people in South Sudan are beginning to realise that men and women are equal in terms of human rights.

‘‘By electing women to political office, South Sudan is demonstrating that it is successful in integrating women into all processes, as required by international conventions, the transitional constitution, and the peace agreement,’’ said Rebecca.

“This is a clear indication that our country is moving forward with a lot of consciousness, a lot of maturity and a lot of responsibility that we are going to build this country through the hands of men and women of South Sudan.”

According to a population estimate by gender between 2011 and 2021, that took historical data into account and was published by Aaron O’Neill research expert, there were roughly 5.68 million women and 5.7 million men living in South Sudan.