For generations, South Sudanese women have been raised in conflict and targeted by armed groups for rape and physical violence. Where most perpetrators go unpunished for their crimes, survivors of physical and sexual violence are highly not to receive justice for their horrific ordeals.
The youngest country in the world, South Sudan’s political stability has been impacted by intercommunal hostility and violent clashes. Just two years after South Sudan’s proclamation of independence in 2011, tensions between ethnic groups and news of an attempted coup led to violent clashes that quickly escalated into a civil war in 2013. The fighting intensified once more in 2016; by 2018, over 400,000 casualties were reported due to clashes born from political violence.
The combination of conflict, floods drought and famine has also created a breakdown in social and family structures. For women and girls, the worsening climate and deforestation places a greater risk on their safety, as they travel to forests in search of firewood to sell and cook with. There, they may encounter roving soldiers who target them for brutal acts of sexual and physical violence. Yet for many women, firewood is a necessity for their livelihoods and to support their families. Today, 7.7 million in South Sudan contend with severe food insecurity.
Our Work in South Sudan
Though conflict continues to rack the nation, South Sudanese women are becoming an unstoppable force for change as they are equipped to harness their inner power while connecting with local leadership and each other.
Women for Women International (WfWI)began operating in South Sudan in 2006, working with displaced women and survivors of sexual and physical violence. Our first office was established in Rumbek before relocating to Yei.
We launched our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations (SWSN) program to provide the training, resources and support for women to achieve economic self-sufficiency and social change. As SWSN participants, women are able to choose and pursue different vocational tracks, including baking sewing and harvesting crops. As they learn to develop businesses and make a profit, they strengthen their skills in earning and saving money to sustain their livelihoods. In turn, they harness the power they hold to transform their lives and communities.
Through our Change Agents program, SWSN graduates are prepared to use their power and voice to address the needs of women in their communities. One avenue of their training is speaking to radio listeners in South Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on topics deemed socially controversial, like women’s health and wellness, gender-based violence and civic engagement.
Men in the community are also engaged as allies to support our work for women’s rights in the community. Through our Men’s Engagement Program, husbands and male relatives are taught gender equality, and the power of supporting women’s full rights. Through the program, our work with women is supplemented through fostering an environment which enables women to reach their full potential.
- Thanks to our supporters, WfWI South Sudan has reached 21,098 women since the program’s inception through 2022.
- In 2022, 2,350 women enrolled in the Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program, and 1,741 previously enrolled participants graduated.
- 41% of women spoke out publicly against the abuse of women in their communities, compared to 2% at enrollment.
- Women averaged a score of 97% on a test measuring the knowledge of violence against women and human right in a national context, compared to the 23% average at enrollment.
- Women averaged earnings of $146.33, compared to $6.50 at enrollment.
- 950 men were reached through the Men’s Engagement Program last year, and 2,550 men have been reached since the program's inception in South Sudan.