In South Sudan, the United Nations Police (UNPOL) serving with the peacekeeping mission, UNMISS, undertake various initiatives to empower women and improve their quality of life. One way of doing that, recently done at the Zogolona market, near Wau town, is to share ways of how they can expand their businesses and hence their livelihoods.
“Many of the women here are single mothers who manage their households alone and need their incomes to grow to support their families. We bring okra, groundnuts, eggplant, fish, and other vegetables to sell and make ends meet,” explained Monica Akuei Ariik Lual, Chairlady of the local Women’s Union.
Monica was one of approximately 30 women attracted by an outreach event organized by the Women Network of United Nations Police and their counterparts of the South Sudan National Police Services.
The objectives were twofold: both to share tips on how to improve the business of the vendors and to help build trust and better relations between them and the local police.
“Women here are well-organized and have solid foundations. We have told them about our experiences from women’s self-help programmes, like how to create sustainable systems of savings and small loans for investments, that can boost their earnings,” said Rehmiah Samanya, a Police Adviser serving with the United Nations Police in Western Bahr El Ghazal.
In a community where women shoulder significant responsibilities, their economic empowerment and growing self-sufficiency can also be a way to address other harmful but common practices like domestic violence, early and forced marriages and, by extension, a lack of girls and women going to school.
“Taking care of children is the obligation of both parents. Unfortunately, some allow their girls to marry at a very young age due to poverty. When women have a better income, they will be able to keep their daughters in school,” averred Simon Akec Chok, a community member.
The event added a new flavour to the routine collaboration between UN and South Sudanese police officers.
“Joining colleagues from UNMISS to sensitize our ladies gave us, officers, the possibility to build trust among our people. I think this initiative will encourage them to approach us confidently to report incidents of abuse and violence,” affirmed Sergeant Rose Achal Kondok, an officer working at the Zogolona police station.
At the end of a day of fruitful interaction, civilian and uniformed women sang, danced, and enjoyed groundnuts, the goodies of the season, together.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).