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S. Sudan President Kiir Promotes Gender Equality

Josephine Napon Cosmos, South Sudan Minister of Environment (2nd R), Awut Deng Acuil, Minister of General Education and Instruction (3rd R), Mary Nawai Martin, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs (4th R), Mary Ayen, Deputy Speaker of Council of States (2nd L). (VOA/Juliana Saipai)

South Sudan President Salva Kiir Monday assured women leaders from across Africa gathered in Juba for an international women's conference the nation is addressing gender-based violence and abuses against women.

Speaking at the International Conference on Women’s Transformational Leadership, President Kiir said his government will address challenges facing women as the country implements its revitalized peace agreement.

"I am aware that there is still a lot of work to be done in the area of women empowerment, our women continue to face a many challenges such as insecurities and lack of power, proper avenues where their voices could be heard, locally, nationally and international," Kiir said.

Kiir said his government has increased power sharing ratio for women from 25% to 35% and encouraged women to compete with men for the remaining 65% fraction.

"Our country cannot afford gender-based violence, gender-based discrimination as this hinders peace and development, we have nurtured women leaders in South Sudan who are incredibly working towards the realization of women equality and women empowerment; your excellences, while we have progressed in advancing women empowerment, our web will still need to be finished," he said

The International Conference on Women’s Transformational Leadership in South Sudan, dubbed “GuwaTaMara,” which means the strength of a woman, is the first global women’s meeting held in South Sudan.

South Sudan’s Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng said she was thrilled with the support she received while organizing the conference.

“This conference provides political space to share your powerful voices and rich experience and create a safe space for our women at the grassroots to network with those from around the world,” Nyandeng said

UNDP deputy humanitarian coordinator, Sarah Nyati, said women in the country played a crucial role during the struggle for independence and the development of their nation.

"Not one of us can tell the women of South Sudan about their journey, only the women of South Sudan know their journey. Every one of us, who have come to support you, can say something about our journeys, but your journey is your journey," Nyati said.

The organizers said the conference aims at creating space for women in leadership, peace and security as well as strengthening women’s participation in the politics.

The conference brought about 400 women leaders including former and current leaders, entrepreneurs and other global influencers.