To hone focus on the interconnectedness of conflict actors, causes and issues, UNDP’s Peace and Community Cohesion (PaCC) project undertook two integral studies to better understand the context and changing needs and priorities of women and youth in South Sudan. The Study on the Traditional and Changing Role of Gender and Women in Peacebuilding in South Sudan and Understanding Youth Subcultures in South Sudan and Their Implications for Peace and Development were each supported by the Government of Sweden and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), respectively.
“Inclusive peace is a collective responsibility that requires our collective efforts. These studies are very timely first because they highlight the roles played by women and youth in peacebuilding,” said Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare Hon. Ayaa Benjamin Warille, during remarks at a dual launch event held in Juba on 5 August.
“By highlighting the changing roles of women in our society it will help us to better position women and leverage on experiences, capacities, and strengths they possess to contribute to development and peace processes,” Hon. Warille continued, highlighting the significance of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action that states: ‘Women’s equal participation in decision making is not only a demand for justice or democracy, but can also be a necessary condition for women’s interests to be considered.’
Key findings from each report were presented before the Minister of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare; the Chairperson of the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission; Undersecretary of the Ministry of Peacebuilding; Director General of the Ministry of Youth and Sports; UNDP Resident Representative; development partners; UN Agencies; and a crosscutting representation of civil society organizations, women, and youth.
The Study on the Traditional and Changing Role of Gender and Women in Peacebuilding in South Sudan examines the norms and values of the communities as well as to what extent women have contributed to peace building and reconciliation processes in targeted conflict clusters in South Sudan. Further, the study explores how their contributions can be strengthened, particularly through interventions that also focus on national unity.
Understanding Youth Subcultures in South Sudan and Their Implications for Peace and Development study emphasizes that South Sudanese youth cannot be defined under a single age bracket, set of cultural characteristics, or common interests. The report does, however, uncover similar motivations emerging across South Sudan’s youth: a sense of tiredness and not having enough, as well as a desire to take matters into their own hands.
“The studies launched today highlight some of the things we may have thought or observed but did not have concrete evidence to back up. We cannot tell our youth to be peaceful meanwhile we are not addressing their needs,” said Ministry of Peacebuilding Undersecretary Hon. Pia Philip.
“Peace will not be realized if we do not give livelihood skills and actively engage youth. Vocational training, access to markets and roads, and value addition,” are all pieces of a holistic and collective approach around which government and UN agencies can unify to better address the challenges youth face in South Sudan, explained Hon. Philip.
Using an example of the potential of South Sudan’s women and youth, Chairperson of the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission Hon. Chuol Rambang highlighted the story of Athing Mu, a 19-year-old American runner of South Sudanese decent who recently won a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Although [she] plays under other flags, she [and others, of South Sudanese origin] are doing great. What we need now is peace so our young people can follow opportunity. We need to stop the question of lawlessness, the law must be applied and implemented. We can commit ourselves to this,” Hon. Rambang said.
“KOICA believes leaving no one behind is the first step to peaceful coexistence in society. Through the right system and structure, mentorship, education and quality employment opportunities, youth can lead their lives and South Sudan as a nation,” said KOICA Representative Yein Park who participated in the launch event via video conference from Kampala, Uganda.
Resident Representative Samuel G. Doe underscored the importance of multidimensional support to women and youth mainstreamed throughout UNDP’s country programme, spanning economic empowerment initiatives; support and advocacy for the meaningful participation of women and youth in peace processes; enhancing the capacities of youth and women leaders through transformational leadership programmes, mentorship, and vocational training.
“Women are key to achieving sustainable peace and development solutions. Thus, without the perspective of women at all levels of decision making, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be fully achieved. All areas of UNDP’s support can be enhanced with the findings and recommendations of these two studies,” he shared.
Both studies can be downloaded in full on UNDP South Sudan’s website here:
Study on the Traditional and Changing Role of Gender and Women in Peacebuilding in South Sudan
Understanding Youth Subcultures in South Sudan and Their Implications for Peace and Development
Full recording of the launch event is available to stream on UNDP South Sudan’s Facebook page.