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Sudanese Women Demand Executive Positions Per Transitional Constitution

FILE - Sudanese women demonstrate in support of a civilian body to lead the transition to democracy, in Khartoum, April 12, 2019. Women say they were key forces in the Sudanese revolution and now deserve government leadership posts.

A coalition of Sudanese women’s rights groups are demanding that women be appointed to posts at all levels of government, including governorships, as stipulated in the transitional constitution.

The more than 10 political and civil society women’s groups say women played a major role in the Sudanese revolution that ousted longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir last year and should be recognized.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok should uphold his promise to appoint a significant number of women to posts in all political and executive structures of government, said coalition member Semya Ali Is'haaq at a news conference Wednesday in Khartoum.

“We have observed a significant decline in these gains beginning with the constitutional document itself, which enshrines the participation of women by 40 percent in the national legislative council. We regard this as a clear injustice and a violation to our rights,” Is’haaq told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus.

Chapter 7, Article 23, Subarticle 2 of the constitution states that 40 percent of all of Sudan’s council seats be given to women.

Last week, Sudan Information Minister Faisal Mohammed Saleh said the nomination of 13 state governors had been completed but talks continued about how many governors should be women. Certain political forces have reservations about appointing female governors, according to Saleh.

Many Sudanese women are qualified to be governors, said women's coalition member Nazik Mahmood Abbas.

“If governors are appointed based on competencies ... we are sure that our women are able to compete in these various positions. To our dismay, what we are hearing is not in accordance with the agreement,” Abbas told South Sudan in Focus.

Women are completely capable of holding any executive posts in the country, including governor, said Nahid Jabrallah, head of the Sudanese NGO Sima, which advocates for women’s rights.

Jabrallah said Sudanese women rose up during the revolution to oust Bashir after suffering for decades under his rule, during which strict conservative Islamic rules were enforced.

“We are capable of defending our rights as we have been capable of facing torture, rape, arbitrary detention and starvation," Jabrallah told South Sudan in Focus. "Our women, who sell tea on the streets and who are suffering under the sun to earn a living, are capable of defending these rights. Our women have proved that they can work hand in hand with men" in all fields.

Political and religious leaders who have been making observations about women assuming powerful positions “are the same people who have been praising and supporting women during the revolution period,” said Jabrallha, adding, “We will not allow anyone to use the politics of the previous regime to misuse us as decoration to paint their images.”

In October last year, the head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, General Abdulfatah Al Burhan, appointed Neimat Abdallah Mohammed Khair as the country’s first female chief justice, a move celebrated by many Sudanese, particularly women.