UNDP South Sudan Country Office team in Juba, forming the number 16 to symbolise #16Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Photo: UNDP\ Peter Kongmalavong

THURSDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2021

UNDP South Sudan Country Office is pleased to join the UN family, partners and the citizens of South Sudan and the world, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, which officially begins 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence. From today until International Human Rights Day on 10 December, this powerful campaign highlights that violence against women is a fundamental violation of human rights.  

There is no doubt that violence against women and girls is a global crisis and global shame. It is also one of the critical threats to the protection and wellbeing of women and children in South Sudan. The situation is particularly scathing at the state level, where instances of GBV often go unreported, where perpetrators are not held accountable, and survivors face lack of services and enduring stigma. 

In the wake of COVID-19, we have seen levels of GBV rise globally – a shadow pandemic itself. Lockdown measures and mitigation efforts worldwide mean survivors of GBV may be forced to stay under the same roof with their tormentors and endure suffering in silence. In other instances, the limited services available to survivors were scaled back to prevent COVID-19's spread.   

The enduring legacy of the conflict means the situation is even bleaker for women and girls in South Sudan. Weak rule of law enables impunity for perpetrators of GBV. Entrenched patriarchal and harmful socio-cultural norms, coupled with poor existence and implementation of national legal frameworks, and inadequate representation of women in decision making are some of the factors contributing to the persistence of GBV in South Sudan. 

On International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and every day, UNDP stands shoulder-to-shoulder with survivors, partners, and national counterparts in the collective efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls.   

In acknowledgment of the need for accountability in action, UNDP commends the Government of South Sudan for selecting a very relevant theme this year, “Take Action, Be Accountable: End Violence against Women and Girls”, which is in line with the Global Theme: “Awareness, Action, Accountability All Year Round” 365 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, and the United Nation’s theme: Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now! 

Throughout the next 16 Days, we are joining the globe in raising up our voices to end GBV and strengthening our productive partnerships to work together to protect and defend the most vulnerable, in line with our commitment to leaving no one behind.  

In South Sudan specifically, we call for breaking down the culture of silence and intersecting forms of discrimination, both of which act as vehicles to endemic GBV in the country. We are also calling for renewed efforts to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes and to enforce existing laws of the land, including in the transitional constitution and statutory penal code.  

UNDP will continue to support the role of the Ministry of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare, which leads this annual national campaign with the aim to end violence against women and girls once and for all. The 16 Days of Activism is the time to amplify the voiceless through our platforms and programmes, to raise awareness and scale up actions to reduce and eliminate GBV and violence against women— not only in our institutions but also in our homes and communities. 

Samuel G.Doe, UNDP South Sudan Resident Representative 

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