Staff and financial gaps cripple Gender Ministry operations
A cash crunch and limited human resources are some of the challenges facing the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare.
The obstacles are now crippling activities at the key but key ministry charged with protecting children’s rights at the grassroots level.
Speaking in Juba on Thursday while marking the Day of African Child, the Head of Child Welfare, Celina Grace Peter, said the department was struggling because of financial constraints from the mother ministry.
“We can do the supervision alright, but I don’t have enough workforce in the ministry,’’ she said, “Even the directorate of child welfare itself has only a handful of 5 or 10 people,” she said.
Because the ministry does not have enough funds or personnel to carry out its task, Celina challenged all women in the country to be responsible and accountable for the well-being of their children.
She said the ministry of gender was planning to create interim care centres where children would be brought, a case study would be conducted, the child’s difficulties would be verified, and the child would then be reunited with family to address the country’s street-child issues.
According to UNICEF, South Sudan has the largest rate of out-of-school children in the world, with over 72 per cent (nearly 2.2 million) of primary-aged children out of school.
According to the UN organisation, children in South Sudan suffer from several problems and are frequently victims of conflict and violence. Girls, especially are vulnerable to sexual assault, and boys are at risk of being recruited and used by military forces and armed groups from an early age.
A UNICEF research shows that Africa has the world’s highest rate of child marriage, with more than 50 million child brides in East and Southern Africa alone.
And South Sudan has more than 1.3 million girls and women who are first married before age 18, 52% or more than half of women between the ages of 20-24 were married before 18.
James Maiden, UNICE’s Chief of Communication, stated that the data is alarming and that child marriage has a bad impact on the development of many youngsters in the country, as well as the overall growth of the country.
“UNICEF and its partners are working to implement prevention measures that focus on girls’ education and empowerment, positive social norms and gender norms shift, and behaviours that foster equality among adolescents, families, and communities,” says the UNICEF’s representative.