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Sudan

Dispatches from the front lines of the women’s movement in Sudan:

Watch video footage from the Sudanese women arrested at an anti-flogging protest in December. Then read the accompanying story by one of these brave activists.

Learn about the case of Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein who was sentenced to flogging in 2009 for wearing pants

Read female genital mutilation survivor Halima Mohamed Abdel Rahman’s plea to abolish this harmful practice

South Sudan: The Road to Freedom

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© UN Photo | Tim McKulka. Voters turn out in large numbers in Juba, capital of South Sudan, on the first day of polling in the South's long-awaited self-determination referendum. Many voters slept at polling stations to be one of the first to cast ballots

Women have shouldered the burden of warfare in south Sudan for decades. Now they are voting 'yes' to a new nation and setting the agenda for its peaceful future.

"For so long, we have expected that there will be bombing again. Now we think this is the end, and we won’t go back to the bush."

Dolly Odwong

When Southern Sudanese from all walks of life went to the polls from January 9 to 15 to cast their vote in an independence referendum, differences between tribes, socioeconomic classes, and gender were cast aside. Former refugees in Cairo, diplomats in London, hotel staff in Nebraska, mothers of eight and 12 in small villages across the south—all of these Southern Sudanese people were united in what has been referred to as the south’s “Final Walk to Freedom.” More than half of the nearly four million registered voters—in Sudan and in the eight countries where diaspora voting took place—were women. Just over a week ago, across the Afghanistan-sized south, women stood in long lines under blazing sun to cast their votes.

The oldest known voter, Rebecca Kadi Loburang Dinduch, who thinks she is about 115 years old, praised God after casting her vote in the Southern Sudanese capital of Juba, saying if she died now she would be happy because her people would soon be free. Young voters like secondary school student Susan Riak, 19, said she’s proud to be Southern Sudanese and proud of this moment in her people's history. Waiting in line to vote in the University of Juba’s chemistry lab, where a polling station had been set up in between rows of sinks with broken taps, Riak said she thinks independence “will change everything.”

This month’s long-anticipated and hard-won vote was a moment of triumph for Southern Sudan, and the mood of optimism that pervaded Juba during the weeklong vote was a marked change from normal life here, where making ends meet every day is a challenge for most people.

The south’s self-determination vote came as part of a landmark peace deal in 2005 that ended the most recent war between north and south, but the fight for southern respect and autonomy is arguably centuries old. Women have been a part of this struggle, some as armed combatants in the two north-south civil wars fought since Sudan gained independence in 1956, many as supporters of the southern rebel movement, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Women cooked for soldiers, volunteered as porters, and took care of children in refugee camps in Ethiopia where young new soldiers were recruited and trained.

“We were always getting beaten and having our huts burned,” a slight but wizened woman told me last fall as she stood in her small field of maize in Lakes state—a place where cattle-keeping dominates most aspects of life, from marriage dowries and inheritance to coming-of-age rituals.

But during the seven days of polling, when southerners solemnly and proudly made the choice of their lifetimes, the feeling was different. . . .

Comments

Hello. I am writing from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I extend my best wishes to women in Southern Sudan for their bravery and involvement in the peace process and independence referendum. It seems the time for "freedom" around the world. I wish to share information about Jean Shinoda Bolen and her work to organize the 5th UN World Conference for Women. The urls are:
http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/support-a-un-5th-world-conference-on...
http://www.5wwc.org/organizations/org_listing_form.html

May your road to independence as of July 2011 be a harmonious one. Peace and freedom are sweet, indeed, after years of anguish and fear because of war.

Onni Milne

Onni Milne

Purity's picture

Sharing your story

Dear Maggie Fick,
I read the story on Sudan vote to Freedom and i really liked it. I wanted to request your permission to share it in our news agency, CISA with our subscribers. kinldy let me know whether we can share your story.
Thank you in advance.
purity

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