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REBUILDING SUDAN “Nothing About Us, Without Us”



Women from across Sudan who participated in the Sudan Women’s Convening



TABLE OF CONTENTS Summary 5 Introduction 8 Objectives of the convening 9 Meeting format 10 Key discussions 11 Taking stock of women’s activism 13 Mainstream women’s movement 13 Neighbourhood committees 14 Political parties and professional associations 15 The youth movement 16 Women from the conflict areas 17 Challenges and divergence 18 The women’s movement: centre and periphery 18 A generational divide 20 Conflict regions 22 Future possibilities 24 Common goals and issues 25 Women’s leadership and decision-making 25 Legal framework reform and transitional justice 27 Social justice 28 Social norms and religious conservatism 28 Capacity development 29 Trauma and healing 30 Uniting for change across the divide 31 Building an inclusive women’s movement 32 Making peace the priority 34 Conclusion 36 Strategies and way forward 36 Legal and policy reforms 36 Peace in conflict zones 36 Social and economic justice 37 THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”


Women’s movement: solidarity and healing Program and policy recommendations Cultivating women leadership Laws and legal aid Gender sensitive transitional justice Building solidarity that recognizes intersectionality Annex 1: sessions and guiding questions



38 39 39 39 39 39 40

SUMMARY For three days, women from across Sudan’s diversity came together for a Convening to discuss the variety of ways women have fought for their rights over the past 50 years, culminating in the current moment of success of the December Revolution that brought down the brutal regime of Omar al Bashir, but also through which women forged an important place for asserting their rights. Sudan’s women’s movement is diverse, representing different interests and priorities, but with a willingness to come together on critical issues facing women across the divides. The women’s movement in Sudan has a long history. Women fought together with men for independence and continued to struggle after independence for greater political rights and better access to education and health care for women and girls. As much as the long history exists, important divergences have formed over the years and emerging women’s groups, especially those formed during the Revolution and from conflict areas harbour a sense of alienation. The new groups have interactions with the ‘traditional’ women’s movement, referring to the feminist movement that have largely gained legitimacy based on a nationalist political agenda. However, issues of gender, violence and sexuality have gained more importance and visibility, hence expanding the horizon of demands as well as challenges. Women affected by conflict and urban poor women are representing the masses of women in Sudan claiming their own representation rather than being represented by elite women. They are forging a new path for women’s rights that is focused on poverty alleviation, protection, peace and security in addition to other crosscutting issues such as social justice. Many of Sudan’s lower and workingclass urban women participated in the Sudanese Revolution alongside men. Their participation was critical and transformative as they became very active in the so-called ‘Sudan Neighbourhood’ committees and professional associations. These groups of women reflect the need for empowerment, increased participation in local government and shared space with male counterparts.

This growth comes with its own set of challenges. The most significant one is the isolation between groups, often leading to lack of recognition, confrontation, prejudice and resentment. The Sudanese women in this Convening, therefore, represent an important step forward within the women’s movement. Women from across Sudan and from a variety of THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”


backgrounds came together for three days of honest, and sometimes challenging and controversial discussions that touched on sensitive topic. But the women expressed the need for a hub that connects all women’s initiatives to share experiences and resources, demonstrating a critical willingness to overcome these divisions. The Convening has also lifted some misconceptions and allowed women to express solidarity. Over thirty years of social and ethnic polarization under Bashir’s rule fragmented civil society, which often led to scattered efforts that would have made a bigger impact had they been streamlined and coordinated effectively. However, this Convening represents the possibilities of unification and progress in the Sudanese women’s movements as the country enters a new era after the ousting of long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir. The Convening left the attendees with a sense of increased unity and understanding across socioeconomic and ethnic groups in the women’s movement across Sudan. Islam has been used as a tool of violence for the last 30 years to suppress women and other Sudanese. And despite women gaining space in public office in recent years, discriminatory laws against women have remained. Sudan is one of only 3 countries that has not signed the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women. This meeting should remind us of our responsibility to our daughters and girls; we should speak honestly and agree to respectfully disagree where needed. Adapted from Opening Remarks by Hala Al Karib – SIHA Network

This meeting should be like a baby. This baby should be nourished and nurtured, and it should grow. In the future, the daughters of Sudan should look back to this meeting and see it as a start; a birth of a strong, inclusive women’s movement. Opening Remarks by Shinaz Ali-Zaids– UAF Africa





INTRODUCTION Sudanese women were instrumental in the December Revolution, which ultimately led to the toppling of one of the longest dictatorships in Africa. Their role went beyond showing up in mass numbers. They were working as organizers, fundraisers, and strategists. Their participation was as diverse as the revolution: women from war zones, IDP camps, rural villages, urban centres, young and old, rich and poor, Christian, Muslim and other religions. Their participation brought about social change that is not less important than the political change. As the Revolution was taking its course, Sudanese women were redefining their identities and recognizing their similarities, differences, challenges, and potential as a group. However, as the dust settled, women’s rights and the women’s agenda took a backseat. Only one woman took part in critical negotiations between the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) and the Transitional Military Council (TMC) that culminated in the August 2019 Draft Constitutional Declaration, and only two women were nominated to the Transitional Sovereign Council. But the momentum gained by Sudanese women during the Revolution A Word from the Honorable Minister of Labour and Social Development, Lena elSheikh Mahjoub Say a prayer for the martyrs of the Revolution. Women’s position was evident throughout the December Revolution right up until 3rd June when we received a shock as a nation and a people. But, on 30 June we proved to the world we are unbreakable. This has encouraged us to remain and go forward. Women played pioneering roles in the Revolution, nevertheless, when women came to see their very small role in the negotiations, we worried – but now, thankfully, we have four women and women should know that we will promote the position of women and women should know our doors are open at any time. We shall strive to allow all people of Sudan to retrieve their rights. Together we can change and move forward. We can realize everything we believe in. This is the beginning of a very long dialogue between us as women. These types of meetings should take place around Sudan periodically to see how we can work together. The revolution is a model for the world, but we want now to preserve and protect this model and we as women can also work to present a new model that can take Sudan forward in democracy. (Adapted from opening speech of the Convening)



has not proven so easy to derail. Sudanese women are keen to keep up the pressure and to capitalize on the opportunity to shape a future Sudan. The Revolution’s success rests in the solidarity and tolerance that was demonstrated on a daily basis at the sit-in site as Sudanese of all backgrounds came together with a common goal. Women’s continued role in the transition of Sudan is critical to achieving peaceful and successful outcomes, but the challenge now will be to translate that goal into a reality that can satisfy diverse interests and priorities. To this end, the Strategic Initiative for women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA Network), in collaboration with Urgent Action Fund- Africa (UAF-Africa), organized a three-day convening in Khartoum from 17 to 19 October 2019. More than 65 women from various parts of Sudan attended the gathering. The event aimed at providing a much-needed platform for women to share their experiences before, during and after the Revolution. It was a space where women could begin the healing process after the tension and violence of the past years. It is hoped that by creating this space for dialogue, women will be able to reach across the table and strengthen unity among women’s groups to formulate a cohesive and comprehensive strategy to improve the lives of women and girls and build a better Sudan.


• To allow a safe space for women to share their experiences in the struggles from their unique positions; • To acknowledge women of all backgrounds participating in the Sudan revolution; • To provide a space for intergenerational dialogue and bonding between the women’s movements; • To create a healing space for women human rights defenders from across Sudan; • To discuss lessons learned and set a collective strategy for future collaboration;

The Convening covered four main themes: 1. Intersectional aspects of the women’s movement in Sudan, and its challenges and potential; 2. Women’s challenges in conflict zones and post-conflict areas;



3. How poverty impacts women and their wellbeing and fundamental rights; and

4. Women’s access to justice and necessary steps to improve laws and policies affecting women.


In order to promote dialogue across diverse women’s groups and activists and to create space for collective healing and brainstorming, the Convening was organized around six discussion panels, a healing circle and a final day of breakaway working groups to highlight priorities and recommendations based on the four themes of the Convening. There was an emphasis on creating a safe space for dialogue and each session was followed with open question and answer periods. The six panel discussions brought three to five speakers who were asked to speak to guiding questions provided to the panel. The six panel groups were organised as follows: 1. Traditional Women’s Groups: long-standing women’s organisations, based on voluntary principles and/or women-led NGOs;

2. Emerging Women’s Groups: neighbourhood committees, professional associations, political parties; 3. Female Youth: activists coming together during the revolution, as individuals and groups;

4. Conflict and Post-Conflict Areas: women’s groups and a combatant from conflict zones (Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile) 5. Women, Poverty and Marginalisation: Tea sellers, Rural groups, marginalized urban groups; 6. Access to Justice: lawyers associations; legal aid; and women’s organisations working on justice and legal frameworks.

During the sessions, the participants were able to reflect on their experiences as women struggling to protect their rights in different contexts and with different priorities. The presenters discussed their histories, successes and challenges and the presentations were followed by open discussions from the participants. On the second day, a healing circle was formed whereby women who wished to share their stories of struggle or trauma were invited to speak in safety and solidarity. The session was meant to recognize the pain and trauma women have experienced and to acknowledge that space must be made for individual and collective healing 10


to take place. On the last day, working groups were formed around the four themes of the Convening and the women brainstormed on priorities and strategies to move forward the women’s agenda on key areas of building the movement; addressing issues in conflict and post-conflict areas; poverty and social justice; and women’s access to justice and legal frameworks.


The Convening was an exceptional opportunity for Sudanese women from diverse backgrounds and generations to engage in an open and candid discussion about their experiences, aspirations, and challenges, and to look ahead to how women can work together to shape the future of Sudan. Participation was inclusive beyond geographic location, achieving true intersectional diversity. This created an opportunity for women to tackle challenging topics and the participants engaged honestly and did not hesitate to bring underlying tensions to the surface so that they could be discussed and addressed.

The discussions were rich and dense, but several topics recurred throughout the sessions, signifying their relevance and urgency. For example, there was consensus that women’s groups must come together and have a united agenda that takes the diversity of demands and context into consideration. Equally important was strengthening women’s leadership skills to fill the gender gap.

The general atmosphere was collaborative and interactive, allowing attendees to address hard issues often overlooked or deprioritised. However, the underlying tension is evident when it comes to race, conflict and economic and social marginalization. There were sensitive topics that emerged during the sessions that are worth delicate attention in future events and call for further deliberation. This report is an attempt to present the content of the meeting. It begins by offering a brief summary of the panel presentations by different actors in the women’s movement and then moves to a depiction of the issues that can divide women and those that bring women together. The final section presents the priorities set by participants who were divided into working groups on the final day of the meeting. As much as possible, the report relies on participants’ words, though paraphrasing is undertaken to provide cohesion and to link the thoughts and ideas. THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”




TAKING STOCK OF WOMEN’S ACTIVISM Mainstream Women’s Movement

The Sudanese Women’s Union (SWU) was established in 1952 and was the first formal women’s organisation dedicated to advocating for women’s rights in Sudan. The SWU was established during a very difficult period where there were a lot of restrictions imposed on women, but at the same time, there were people who supported women. There was a national movement for independence and in this atmosphere the Women’s Union was established. Women were supported by a lot of educated men and the Sudanese Communist Party. The Union discussed issues that concerned women, including health and education. At this time, women were not allowed to go out of the house at all. Women could only work in some professions, such as nursing; and once married, women were fired from their workplace. The SWU fought for women’s right to work and to leave the home. The Union struggled to increase education opportunities for women and invested in establishing schools that were later seized by the government. While the SWU hailed from the urban centre, it spread its activities across Sudan, targeting repressive legal frameworks that affect women. The SWU successfully obtained a number of rights for women but changing societal attitudes and practices has been more challenging. One of the SWU veterans confessed that they are still fighting for many of the same demands they called for in the 1960s.

Women’s issues cannot be separated from the social concepts that work to oppress them. The public order law and public order courts have been used to subjugate women for years. These laws are used to target women and push them back to their homes. But Sudanese women came together and We are talking about the traditional women’s movement –but I think that any movement for change cannot be called ‘traditional.’ Any movement that strives to improve the status of women in Sudan cannot be called traditional. Adapted from Ihsan Fagiri – No to Women’s Oppression



fought against it. It is important to remember Amal Habani, Adla Hasabal and Rasha Awad who first came to support Lubna Hussein, who was being tried under the public order laws for wearing trousers. The activist group, No to Women’s Oppression (NTWO) formed as a result of the solidarity campaign for Lubna Hussain. Ever since, NTWO has arranged numerous campaigns that highlight controversial issues and tackle constitutional rights such as freedom of conscience, in the case of Mariyam Abdullah who was imprisoned for apostasy. NTWO also provided an inclusive platform for women that did not have a specific political agenda or association with political parties. That does not mean members were not political, but the platforms provided a united agenda that has women’s rights front and centre and above any political party’s agenda. One of the unique characteristics of NTWO is that it welcomes feminist men and supporters, which defeated the notion that only women are concerned about women’s issues. Mansam was formed to unite the efforts of women to work together strongly and efficiently. It is a coordination mechanism to bring together women’s organizations, NGOs, political bodies, and women human rights defenders (WHRDs). It worked during the Revolution and promoted the position and participation of women. This network has focused on promoting women’s representation in decision making bodies through advocacy, lobbying and by nominating and lobbying for the appointment of women leaders to various positions in the transitional government including various commissions. However, as the speaker noted: the revolution started in 1989 – it did not start in December 2018. Women have never stopped protesting, marching and struggling for women’s rights and against oppression. There are a lot of challenges that women in Sudan still face today.

Neighbourhood Committees

All persons present were part of the work of the neighbourhood committees. This is a form of change and resistance that has been around since the colonial era. People discussed neighbourhood issues in informal gatherings to speak of resistance to government actions. When women were not able to join in public life, the neighbourhood committees gave women a place to participate and have a say on political issues. The neighbourhood committees became formalised during the 2013 September Movement. The committees formed in the seating areas of the tea sellers in neighbourhoods where people came together. Women and 14


youth could speak and have a forum for coming together and this helped bring women into Revolution. Neighbourhoods play an important role in governing the community; it should be recognized that they have a place in the governance of the country. But not all neighbourhood committees are open. In Kalaka, south Khartoum, women were denied leadership positions in resistance committees. They were not allowed since the terms of engaging in leadership was conditioned by availability during odd times of the day and to meet in insecure locations.

I was expected to attend meetings after midnight. I couldn’t – I have kids and the road was not safe to the meeting place. This was used against me to deny me access to leadership in the neighbourhood committee. Lemya –Jabra Neighbourhood committee

Political Parties and Professional Associations

Female teachers faced a lot of difficulties during Bashir’s regime. The Teachers Committee was active in the Revolution, participating in protests, marches and the sit-in, and teachers were threatened because of the actions of Sudanese women working within the Committee. They faced arrests and oppression. But even when facing these threats, this did not stop women from assuming their roles. The unions and syndicates are important to the movement. Many associations came together to fight the oppression of the government, and women fought within these associations to speak about women’s issues and to fight for women’s rights. The regime was very oppressive, and even the unions could become tools of the regime to enforce its way of teaching. It has been a struggle, but professional associations have been key to the organisation of social movements and women have gained their place within these associations.

Women in political parties have also gained ground. There is more participation and representation by women. Quotas for women have been introduced: first 10 percent, then 25 percent. Many of the political parties now have sections of the party devoted to women. Despite women’s increased presence, women’s positions in parties are still very weak. Even though the door has been opened, women struggle to be part of decision-making. Women fuel the movement of political parties, but their reach is limited. And women in political positions struggle to address women’s issues. These are the issues facing women in political parties and political positions. THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”


The Youth Movement

The youth movement has been critical to the success of the Revolution. Young women were active on a daily basis and came out in mass numbers, often in defiance of their families and communities. The youth brought life to the protests, bravely defying multiple social conventions and creating a space that presented an alternative vision of Sudanese life. Before the 20th of December a group of friends came together to speak about how to take part in the Revolution. We worked hard in following the parades and protests- until we came to the sit-in and we found many issues were not addressed in the sit-in. We talked about our role, what we needed to do and what our role in the movement was or should be - so, even though we took part, we were thinking about how we can mobilize ourselves. We talked about how we can get involved in the revolutionary movement. We wanted to take part in negotiation, participation – we talked about raising the capacity of the girls in the sit-in – we said we did not come here to just do the same things we do at home – instead, we drew graffiti, we created a platform.

Youth came together across Sudan, not only in Khartoum. Women in Kassala came together and had a platform at the sit-in. Young women wanted to find a way to work at the sit-in. There were challenges, but in the end those barriers were broken. Young women found a place at the sitin and discussed publicly the issues of female youth. Initially, there were challenges with some men, but over time they became supportive. Young women created interactive sessions and went to schools and other places to speak and mobilize other youth, looking to strengthen the position of women in the region.



Women from the Conflict Areas I did not tell my family about my participation in protests – I was imprisoned, and I had a miscarriage while imprisoned. Women’s political participation – I want to speak about this again because women in the conflict areas have different issues. Like pregnant women have particular treatment, which is negative, also different violence is committed against women, like FGM – we also have issues accessing health, etc. Participant from Conflict Area

The struggle for women in the conflict areas has been categorically different. Women have been subjected to massive violence, including rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, many are displaced from their homes, have limited access to health and education services, and face ongoing food security issues. Women have been speaking out about their issues and have been demanding the right to participate in peace processes and negotiations. Women from the conflict zones participated widely in the protests and sit-in. the space was an important opportunity for women to speak about their grievances, not only as women, but as members of a marginalized group. Their position speaks to the intersectionality of women’s subordination, where multiple forms of discrimination are present.

The Darfur struggle has not been depicted correctly in the media – this is a genocide. It started in 1999, but the peak was in 2003 – though people say peace is achieved, this is not the case. The issue of disarming – this never happened, weapons are sold and used on a large scale – killings and rape continue. The disarmament that was declared by the government was propaganda. We have a report of 120 rapes that happened in 5 months that were perpetrated by armed groups. These should be prosecuted. We also need women to come from the refugee camps and speak about their issues



CHALLENGES AND DIVERGENCE The Convening brought together women from across the country, from different socio-economic groups, different religions and different ethnicities. The gathering afforded women from diverse groups the opportunity to speak about their issues and also touch on sensitive issues that have divided women through the years. The women spoke candidly on these topics and did not shy away from potential conflict or tension. The presentations and discussions made clear where these divisions lie and the latent resentment and antagonism that exist, but the participants of the meeting also demonstrated a willingness to listen and to overcome these differences. The following sections speak to some of the challenges and issues raised by the participants during the presentations or followup discussions. “We need to return to the question about why, after so many years, we are still addressing the same questions and the same issues even after all this time.”

“The issues remain the same since the 60s because of elitism. The political and social contexts are not the same, there have been great developments, but many basic issues remain the same.”

The Women’s Movement: Centre and Periphery

I would like to speak about how women’s activities are only present in the central areas. Yet women’s issues are everywhere. Participant from Peripheral Community


Discourse on Sudan often raises the construct of ‘periphery.’ In the context of Sudan, this term refers to regions and socio-economic or ethnic groups who have been systematically excluded from political and economic opportunities. ‘Periphery,’ therefore, can refer to the conflict regions, economically marginalized regions, or persons from these regions or from other marginalized groups who inhabit the central regions. Women from these marginalised spaces lamented their under-representation in the gender agenda led by women from the centre. A clear sense of exclusion was communicated by participants who felt


that the women’s movement had not effectively represented their interests. The priority issues for women from the We from the marginalized areas peripheries differ from the issues of have different priorities than women in the mainstream movement. women from the center. For Women in the far west of Sudan example, women speak about positions in parliament, but I do are not concerned about political not know much about parliament. representation as much as they are For us, education, basic services, troubled about high rates of illiteracy water, these are the priorities. or child marriage. While women’s Literacy levels are too low, we political representation could impact are near the border of South these needs, women in the periphery Sudan and we are affected by think that their challenges are about what happens in South Sudan. life and death and cannot wait for the The fact is that feminist groups political battle to bear fruits. Without do not reach out to women from marginalized areas. Even sufficient women from the peripheries if we speak about laws and representing their issues, they are not legal reforms, the people in addressed at the central level or in marginalized areas know nothing the mainstream women’s movement. about the laws. Moreover, their oppression is likely Participant from Southern Sudan. to continue if their immediate needs are not addressed so that they too can effectively participate and benefit from political and economic developments of the country. The comments of participants stand alone and speak directly to the intersectionality of women’s subordination and oppression in Sudan. Structural inequality runs deep and without a unification of the women’s movement, it is unlikely to be overcome in the near future. The following comments from participants illustrate the need for change. “For the December Revolution, I recognize the continuation from the past [women’s movement], but we need to identify why we have not succeeded until now – we need to address the issues that have prevented us from achieving our goals. We need to discuss how we can reach out to all women in Sudan, to address all issues. Women’s organisations need to get out of Khartoum and do more in the regions.” “We need to agree that there is a big gap between the women of the centre and the women of the marginalized areas. Women of the marginalized areas are not supported. There has been disconnection. People in the THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”


marginalized areas feel that women of the centre do not care about the women of the marginalized areas.”

“We feel that the women of Khartoum did not stand with the women of the peripheries enough, they did not support us. Speaking about sexual harassment is a position of privilege for us, because we have more serious sexual violence committed against women.”

A Generational Divide

Younger Sudanese women expressed frustration about their lack of We need to ask if we just want to representation in the “traditional” travel abroad and get experience, or women’s movement in Sudan. They do we want to make actual structural observed that leadership is not change? diverse when it comes to age, and Youth Participant in critque of (older) often excludes women who are from a activists who travel frequently to more conservative background, such international conferences. as veiled women. They attributed the gap in interest to the fact that what the young generation face is distinctly different from what the older generation experience. There is a clear sense of alienation from the priorities of older women, as young women often pursue fundamental change in society that do not always resonate with an older generation. The youth movement may also demonstrate less of a willingness to negotiate for this change or to accept a slow or intermittent approach to achieving their goals. Thus, many youth see the gap between the generations to be not only in terms of priorities, but also in terms of approach and ideology. The younger generation complained that they are often dismissed or disregarded because of their age and therefore their desires are left unaddressed and the youth themselves are unable to reach the decision-making positions that could enable them to promote their own agenda. As one participant stated, “Young women do not feel like they are represented because they do not participate or take part in decisionmaking and there is a gap between older and younger generations. A gap we need to discuss.” Overcoming this gap will require the older generation to listen and acknowledge the experience of the younger generation. “The issue is that the former women’s movement could not speak to the issues of the current women’s issues; they could not satisfy the hopes of the women of today. There is a big gap between the hopes and dreams of 20


young women and the current women’s movement – in homes and villages and neighbourhoods there is a very huge gap. We have to address this. We need to understand that our rights are not to be given to us but to be taken. This question of participation – it does not matter, because this is given to us.” “Young women are not allies, they are the main stakeholders for women in Sudan. This is a new Sudan and though young people and women were the most actively engaged, they are not in the political positions now. There is also an issue of qualification and ability. There are many ways of evaluating qualifications, not only in terms of years. Though their experience is only of a few years maybe there is a different kind of experience that is not measured in time.” “What is worse than men of the patriarchy is women of the patriarchy.”

We formed as a group during the revolution. We don’t have a long history. The challenge between the youth and the feminists of the past is that new movements need support. Our movement is restricted by a lack of funds. As a youth movement we are always taken lightly, and we are not taken seriously. People think that we do not have enough awareness or we have not suffered enough. And this is not fair. Women should not be considered only once they reach a certain age limit; all women should support the small and new feminist organisations. There are also a lot of attacks against the youth movement; especially against more radical feminists. Our demands may not be achieved in only a few years, we know this, but maybe our radicalism is what will let us move beyond the same issues. In response to the critiques of young women, many of the women present stood and spoke to their own struggles. As one women noted, she was 12 years old when she started fighting for women’s rights, and many of the women who represent the ‘traditional’ movement, have experienced many levels of personal sacrifice, including in some cases imprisonment, public shaming, and social backlash. Though there was generally a recognition that the women’s movement in recent years did not manage to overcome critical issues, the participants of the meeting were also reminded that issues that are specific to older women should not be forgetten as young women take up more of the space within the movement.



I joined Sudan Women union when I was 12 in Rashad Nuba –Mountains. I was assigned to provide literacy for women in the district. I have been active in the movement for the past 50 years. Adila Al Zaibag –President of Sudan Women Union –Founded in in 1952

Conflict Regions

Although the conflict regions are part of the periphery, their situation deserves special attention. Women from the conflict regions have experienced levels of violence and economic exclusion disproportionate to other regions. Peace negotiations are needed to resolve the conflicts and bring peace to Sudan. The nature of conflict drives division and discord between Participant from Conflict Area populations, something that can only be overcome through peace settlements followed by peacebuilding and awareness raising activities. Though women of Sudan may share some common goals and grievances, there is no doubt that conflict resolution will be paramount for women in conflict zones. As one female fighter from an opposition military force stated at the meeting, “if a peace settlement is successful, then I will put down my weapon, but if it fails, I will return to fighting.” I want to speak about female soldiers. We do not speak about them; they need our support through the peace process and after. Male fighters are given better benefits than female fighters. This should not be the case.

Women from conflict zones must first prioritize peace and their ability to influence any peace settlement so it addresses and represents the positions, issues and views of women in conflict zones. Only through these peace agreements is it likely that women will obtain the justice they seek for years of conflict-related violence and oppression. Women from conflict zones, even those who live in Khartoum, have a host of different problems compared to average urban women. The priorities of an uneducated woman from a conflict region are distinctly different than that of an illiterate woman from the centre who did not experience the wounds of war. Both might experience poverty and a lack of access to education and health services, but women from conflict zones will face additional discrimination based on a conflict-related identity. Similarly, gender-based violence (GBV) is treated differently depending on the context. Cases of harassment in an urban setting are often recognized and can go viral, prompting quick response and attention. But this is not the case when it comes to rape in conflict zones or other forms of GBV in the periphery. Distance and 22


unfamiliarity make people less sympathetic to incidents of sexual abuse in a war context. It is the job of an inclusive women’s platform to bring those cases to light and urge the raising of collective consciousness in the centre to bring about actions and directly address the issues. Participants at the meeting from conflict zones were particularly direct in their questions to mainstream women’s organisations, asking them how they plan to assist women in conflict regions to achieve their priorities, even if they differ from the mainstream agenda.

However, women from the conflict zones were very clear on the issues that mattered to them: peace and representation in peace processes, “For women from the conflict regions – everything is about security and the need for peace. Right now, peace talks are happening, but the real stakeholders are not represented.” Though women activists generally showed sympathy and solidarity with women from the conflict areas, tensions did arise at times, reminding the women that peace and unity within the women’s movement will be hard won and the women from conflict areas will not negotiate their immediate demands for peace and representation within the peace processes. “The government needs to commit to the Constitutional The immunity and impunity needs to be agreement that hands power addressed. Government soldiers are back to the civilians, including protected and this needs to change. the UNSCR 1325 protocol. This Participant from Conflict Area requires women to be included in peace processes and creates mechanisms for dealing with issues. We need more women involved in peace processes of Sudan. We need a committee on transitional justice.”

“Violence against women has been practiced throughout, women have suffered – there are few facilities for women such as health services, education, and clean water. Also, there are issues around mining – the people suffer from cyanide in the water, there are no regulations or controls. I think that committees should be established after official approval to conduct investigations because the current way- the justice system is not sufficient for achieving justice since it is political.” “We speak about change, the opening and opportunity, but we [in conflict areas] do not see this change. Bashir stepping down is not the end to our THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”


problem. Land and property are an issue- people do not have a place to return to, the camps are overcrowded, and the conditions are bad.”

Participants from the conflict areas were particularly courageous in speaking directly to challenges that will face Sudan even if peace agreements are signed. As one woman asked her colleagues at the meeting, “How can we bridge the divide between the Arab and African people in Darfur? How do we address this? How do we create a dialogue with people who might be complicit in crimes, maybe some say they only joined because of hardship- but how do we address this?” “The Arab tribes now think they are superior – these are often basic uneducated people, but the region mobilized and weaponized these people. Now we have started opening dialogue with the younger generation to speak about how to bridge this divide for the future.”

The women of Darfur have paid the biggest price for conflict in Darfur. Women have been subjected to the worst violations. Nevertheless, we are saying goodbye to a very dark period. But the priorities of the women of Darfur are very different from the interests of the people from the nonconflict areas. For example, in the refugee camps, even the most basic items are missing. And even though the peace process has started –we do not include a sufficient number of women in these processes.

FUTURE POSSIBILITIES The Convening offered a rare opportunity for women from across the divides of conflict, religion, ethnicity and economics to speak openly about their experiences, concerns and their hopes. Some women had never heard war stories from a survivor or met women from Eastern Sudan. Exposure to others’ experiences not only enhanced women’s understanding, but it also enabled them to think holistically and to see the bigger picture of their predicament as women of Sudan. When activist women in Kassala share experiences on combating poverty, another woman will see the similarities in her context, even if there are unique circumstances or root causes. Women are pushing the envelope and feel more empowered by the Revolution. The various informal groups that emerged during the revolution allowed women to experience political engagement at the 24


grassroots level. Women were able to build alliances, mobilize, and lead demonstrations and protests that spoke to their issues. For many women, this is a newly discovered agency; an agency they will not let go of obediently. The Convening was also a continuation of the unity that was felt throughout the Revolution, women have found common cause, issues that resonate across divides and which bring them together as one.

However, as the Convening also showed, there are issues that divide women, and this is where the real challenge for the Sudanese women’s movement becomes clear. Women, men and youth came together during the Revolution with a singular goal to install a civilian government; the challenge now will be to maintain this unity when the goals are diverse. The divergences that were discussed during the meeting are real and complex and will take time and commitment to overcome, but the results of the meeting demonstrated a willingness to try. If Sudanese women can come together and support each other towards a more just and equal Sudan for all Sudanese, this will be the foundation for a powerful women’s movement.

Common Goals and Issues

During the convening a number of common themes, issues and recommendations were made that brought women together in consensus. These goals and issues unite the women and can provide a foundation for building a strong coalition of women across Sudan. Women’s lack of political representation, participation and decision-making in various political or government bodies, institutions, or processes has been decried by all women. Though the nature and particular processes envisaged might differ, the dearth of women’s role in decision-making is recognised by all. Women were also in agreement that if gender equality is to be achieved, legal reformation is necessary as is investment in accessible education and health care for all Sudanese. Other issues facing women across Sudan include religious fundamentalism and patriarchal norms that oppress women, and which are deeply entrenched in societal relations and structures. Finally, women agreed that there is a need for capacity building of women and for collective and personal healing. Women’s Leadership and Decision-Making Women’s participation in the non-violent revolution in Sudan was remarkable and hard to miss. To an outsider, they saw women in large numbers marching the streets and addressing the public. But women’s role THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”


in the revolution was more than simply showing up. They were leaders of this revolution and made its ethos more gender-sensitive, mobilizing the public to join protests highlighting women’s issues such as women in prisons. And despite the thick restrictive layers imposed on women, they showed gallant efforts by mobilizing, planning, and handling logistics during all the stages of the revolution. However, in less than three months since the signing of the power-sharing agreement between the Military Council (TMC) and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), women were forced to take a backseat. This exclusion is not new to Sudanese women as they have been underrepresented since the creation of modern Sudan in 1956. Notwithstanding the achievements of the women’s movement in Sudan, and the assumption of leadership positions in political parties, women often lack executive powers in line with those of their male colleagues. In the recent political processes, the negotiation delegation of the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) had only one woman out of a team of fifteen members and only three women versus twenty-six men in FFC’s communications committee. The ongoing peace talks also lack female representation, and women in warzones feel isolated from the discussion despite being the most affected by wars and conflicts. Excluding women from peace talks will inevitably overlook women’s needs in the peace process and further deepen their state of neglect. Armed groups also share the blame as they do not include women from their constituents in negotiations and women from refugee or IDP camps are rarely even consulted. Young women also complained of the inability for young women to enter decision-making positions, whether in the women’s movement itself, or in other bodies such as neighbourhood or resistance committees. Women in neighbourhood committees are active, but not always able to have strong influence; in many neighbourhoods, women are often segregated into separate committees or play only a supportive role rather than a central one.

Women are unanimous in their support for promoting women to be in leadership and decision-making positions; however, this is not translated into a simple percentage of women in parliament, it is a desire for women to lead across the board in various positions and to use their positions for the betterment of Sudanese women and the future Sudan.



Legal Framework Reform and Transitional Justice Women at the Convening frequently raised the issue of unjust laws and discrimination that target and oppress women. Justice and redress for the violations suffered by women across Sudan, including rape, killing, harassment, beating and imprisonment were also key priorities for women. Women were united in the need to reform the legal framework of Sudan to remove all discriminatory laws, protect women’s rights and to seek justice for violations.

The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs addressed the gathering on the first day and confirmed the commitment of the transitional government to women’s rights and the objective of the government to ratify CEDAW without reservations as well as all international and regional treaties pertaining to women. Similar promises were made again on the last day by the Minister of Justice when he addressed a protest organised by the Convening attendees as he attended another event in an adjacent conference hall. However, attendees remain cautious about taking these promises at face value and have legitimate worries about their fulfilment. The Prime Minister repeatedly highlighted the need for more women representation; We need institutional reform yet, women were not present during the – legal and state bodies, we most recent round of peace talks with the need women involvement in armed groups. These worries are valid law enforcement bodies and for a host of reasons, most notably that legal and judicial services, women leadership from the old regime so for example, women who remain in powerful positions, representing have suffered sexual violence, they need to find women there the country and women without a clear [service providers]. We need mandate from women of Sudan. Therefore, this to be legal reform at the the newly formed government ought to national level. take imminent steps to ensure that such Participant reforms produce concrete results. Justice for violations committed is also a clear demand for women of Sudan; however, achievement of this goal is far more politically sensitive and potentially volatile. There also remains some divergence of priorities, whereby women from conflict zones are most interested in seeking redress and prosecution for violations committed during the conflict, women from outside of the conflict zones prioritize justice for the killing and rape of protesters of the Revolution. Thus, while women share the overall aim of justice, the issue can become a divider if not handled with care and sensitivity. THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”


Social Justice Poverty, access to education and health care and basic services such as water and electricity were issues raised by women throughout the Convening. Women are keen to fight for the right of all Sudanese women and girls to be educated, healthy and to have equal access to livelihood opportunities. Though promotion of equal access to education, healthcare and economic rights might be less controversial and are priorities that hold the support of women across Sudan, the implementation of policies and processes that ensure equal access in practice will be critical. In theory, support of such ideals is popular, but in practice, inequities can be difficult to overcome, and this will need the continued promotion and monitoring of outcomes from all women in Sudan. If populations from regional and marginal areas continue to feel neglected, social justice cannot be considered as successful. Social Norms and Religious Conservatism Conservative social norms are prevalent across Sudan, though there are regional and religious variances. The women of We also need to recognize the Convening noted that patriarchal that women also fight against values run through Sudanese families and women – in all regions of manifests itself throughout all Sudan, women stop the interpersonal relations and institutions. progress of women; they block women from achieving justice During the previous regime, Islamists in the name of tradition or have also managed to promote religion fundamentalist perceptions and practices of Islam, using religion as an instrument Participant of control. Whether individuals prescribed to the views of the regime or not, the ideology has impacted Sudanese culture and it is clear that the presence of those who prescribe to these views will also present a challenge to women’s rights and gender equality. Many people in Sudan, including some women, believe that discourse around women’s rights is antithetical to Sudanese culture and tradition. According to traditional gender roles, women are expected to be housewives and mothers first. Women’s presence outside of the home has historically been contentious, and though women have fought and gained ground against these restrictions, there remains an air of suspicion and mistrust around women’s liberties. Sudanese society often criticizes women who choose to pursue political or professional endeavours outside 28


of their family, their capacity for many kinds of work is questioned, and their access to decision-making is greatly restricted. If women do take up roles outside of the home, the general perception is that this is a secondary task and not a priority. For example, the revolutionary neighbourhood committees that heavily relied on women for mobilization and logistics rarely considered involving women in the decision-making processes. The male members would often hold meetings at odd hours or overlook inviting female members altogether. The women agreed that such social norms underlie gender inequality and violence against women and girls, and confronting and challenging the beliefs, values, and practices that produce these norms is critical to achieving the equitable Sudan the women are imagining.

Capacity Development Participants repeatedly noted the need for capacity building of women in a variety of areas. It was particularly noted that women lack leadership skills that allow them to negotiate for power in decision-making processes. This challenge is linked directly to political platforms that do not invest in cultivating women’s leadership compared to men. Women are keen to improve their skills in leadership, advocacy, coalition building and general management. For women without formal education, basic literacy and numeracy were noted as key to improving the active participation of grassroots women in the broader women’s movement, along with the skills noted above.

Trauma and Healing There is a deep sense of loss and trauma among women activists. As the participants engaged in a session on collective care, the need to create a time and space that promotes healing for women became clear. Each one was asked to share with a partner one technique they use to overcome stress. Many noted that the sit-in created a general sense of solidarity and oneness that provided a consolation for most of the participants. That sense of unity served as an invisible thread connecting all of those who were active in Revolution. This sense of connectedness soothed their sense of defeat or betrayal. Other techniques or avenues where women found solace included lending support to others who need help via volunteerism, social work and getting hope and energy from others. The women explained that this makes them feel useful and supportive, hence increasing their sense of worth. Also, the everyday act of sharing thoughts with friends who have similar experiences provided relief. THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”


However, it was noticeable that women reported that they often avoided expressing their feelings explicitly and preferred to show a confident demeanour. They felt that expressing self-control and holding in emotions made them feel stronger and more reliable. Nevertheless, women did open up at the session, indicating a willingness to share in safe spaces. The emotional accounts demonstrated the need for healing in communities. Such healing, it was observed would be best undertaken in small, closeknit groups where the women and youth would feel less vulnerable and where their particular stories of trauma would resonate more clearly.

Uniting for Change across the Divide

The presence of divides and differences between the women activists of Sudan was I’ve learned that we are brought to light at the Convening. However, very different. And, that the most potent outcome of the meeting we are able to co-exist. was the commitment of all categories of women and youth to try and overcome these Participant differences and unite to create an inclusive women’s movement that addresses and represents all women of Sudan. As one participant asked of the panel on the first day of the

meeting, “What can we do as Sudanese feminists to use the Sudanese offices in all of Sudan to create a movement that will work for all women of Sudan?” The answer to this question will not be found easily or immediately, but many proposals were made during the meeting, and the simple recognition of differences and the belief and desire that these differences can be overcome is a clear starting point. Women leaders are not all in agreement, if we do not find some agreement, we cannot move forward. We do not have necessary tools to play our social role; women are very few in the decision-making positions, and often sit alone on mechanisms and boards. There are gaps in the movement – gaps between [the mainstream] women’s movement and young feminists – the youth. We have to address these gaps. Achieving equality is a very big challenge and we should all work together to achieve this goal. Participant



Building an Inclusive Women’s Movement

Throughout the Convening women spoke of how an inclusive women’s “We should not fall in the trap of the separate youth and older generation – like in the parties movement could and where youth wings are very different. We are all should be formed. “Sudan women – we all have our issues, some different, is huge, diverse, sometimes some shared, there are issues here I can speak we cannot establish about here that I cannot speak about with others communication between outside this room.” each other. For women in Participant marginalized areas – if we do not have communication we will not go forward. We need people who can communicate across different cultures and languages and people. I remember my mother who had a neighbour and they spoke different languages – and they needed someone to help them to speak together. But they managed, and they communicated.” Many participants acknowledged that the movement has not been Violations against women in conflict fully inclusive, but it was noted areas have to be addressed. We should “that the oppressive situation conclude this workshop with very hindered the opportunity to serious action plan for the sovereign allow diversity of leadership authorities to fix the problem of the in the women’s movement and people in the conflict areas. This must be done because if this is not done this means we were not fully peace cannot be achieved. successful in achieving women’s rights and addressing women’s Participant issues.” Participants agreed that this situation needs to change, and it was suggested that similar meetings need to be conducted in different regions of Sudan, so that more women from these areas can participate and women from outside of the regions can come to understand and learn more about the issues of the women in marginal areas. Sudanese women activists need to have forums to meet more often inside Sudan and go to areas where they have never been before. Visiting other areas and learning and living other women’s experience not only makes them more empathic with other women but also makes them more aware of the wide range of women’s demands around the country. Developing a better understanding of other women’s THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”


struggle allows women and use their leverage to advocate for one another and break the pattern of working in silos.

A common theme during the meeting was that studies on women’s activism in Sudan should be undertaken in order to understand more fully the range of ways women work for their rights. A thorough analysis of women’s activism could provide insight into how to overcome the weaknesses, as noted by one participant, “If we make a study on the issues effecting the women’s movement – this would help to understand issues of coordination.” In general, the consensus is that efforts need to be made to correct the exclusions of the past and create a truly inclusive Sudanese women’s movement that understands and works for the interests of all women. Making Peace the Priority A very significant challenge for the women’s movement to overcome, however, is the threat of continued conflict. A unified women’s movement will only be possible if peace is made the single-most important issue that all women activists rally behind. If women from conflict zones do not feel that they have the full support of the women’s movement as they struggle for peace and for their place in the peace negotiations,- negotiations that should address the root causes of conflict, women in conflict zones will continue to feel marginalized. Taking a step back to see how the fate of all Sudan is interconnected and how war affects people in warzones, makes peace-making a task for everyone, not only those in camps for the internally displaced. One of the most remarkable achievements of this gathering has been the opportunity for women to listen to one another and learn about their peers’ struggles and triumphs and discuss among themselves how to build on their success and address the obstacles. The testament to the commitments made by women at the meeting to overcome divides will be whether or not the women’s movement is able to come together and fight for priorities and issues that do not necessarily reflect the priorities of the mainstream or majority of women. This means that the mainstream women’s movement will have to truly acknowledge the suffering of the minority and make the cessation of this suffering the priority issue of the movement. In reality, this means making the oftenrepeated statement of the sit-in that “we are all Darfur” a meaningful phrase. 32


It must be acknowledged that conflict in Sudan will threaten the ability of the transitional government to create stability and uproot elements of the previous regime that continue to try and de-stabilize Sudan and maintain their power and influence. The things that united those at the sit-in to rid Sudan of its dictator must work to stabilize the country so that all other priorities can then be achieved. Peace and accountability for atrocities should be the mantra of the women’s movement, since without peace, it is unlikely any of the visions imagined during the Revolution will be realized.

“I want to speak about the peace issue – according to UNSCR 1325, women have a right to participate in all peace talks and negotiations. We should work and support each other to have real participation and real representation. Maybe some questions of why we [women’s movement] were not in Darfur cannot be answered, as for 30 years we operated under pressure. Now, we need to look forward to what we can do to change this for the future. Each group and party need to be held accountable now. This is a new era and we need to be accountable to have offices in all parts of Sudan.” “I think the implementation of the 1325 provisions are not clear on the ground. In order to create peace, there is a role for international and government agencies, CSOs and communities. We have initiatives that are top down, we need to find our own solutions. Any solution needs to address the root causes of the conflict.”

If we as women do not work closely together, we will not have peace. There is no media that is informing us about the peace processes, the transitions that are happening – there is a failure. SIHA should hold workshops in other places. The mothers of the martyrs should be brought together. We must work together to build Sudan.



CONCLUSION The Convening was a successful moment in time that brought together women from across Sudan to speak honestly about the past and build hope for a better future. Women openly challenged each other on issues of exclusion, conflict, racism and poverty, and the majority of women who participated were willing to listen and engage in a constructive dialogue. Though women were united in their desire to build a strong, inclusive and cohesive women’s movement, many challenges remain. While common ground was found, it is the ability to stand together and reach across divides that will truly test the foundations of a united movement. One noticeably untouched discussion during the meeting, however was the mention of LGBTQIA groups or rights during the sessions, except the mention from the working group on women’s movement solidarity. This can be attributed to the fact that the topic continues to be a difficult and divisive subject in Sudan even among human rights defenders. However, it will be important to address this issue going forward. For the momentum of the Convening to be maintained, women and youth will need platforms and solidarity networks to engage with each other and plan the way forward. Such platforms must not only rely on women’s availability and enthusiasm, but they should be utilized to invest in upscaling women skills and prepare them for the battles to come. For a true inclusive movement to be formed, women must first acknowledge and address the needs of the most marginalized. In the case of Sudan, this means working together to build peace for all of Sudan and to address the root causes of conflict. For the Sudanese women’s movement to build genuine solidarity, women must understand intersectionality and how our environment, racial and economic backgrounds, and other components of our identity drastically impact our needs and priorities. Finding an equilibrium point for those diverse realities and accepting our differences will indeed enable the forging of a sustainable alliance.





STRATEGIES AND WAY FORWARD The last day was devoted to developing strategies that take into consideration cross-cutting issues and intersectionality. Each group presented their most urgent priorities and their action plans. The groups were divided into four themes: legal and policy reforms; peace in conflict zones; social and economic justice; the women’s movement, healing and solidarity. The following is a presentation of the priorities laid out by each working group as a starting point for future actions.


The group set a three-fold strategy that addresses legal reforms on multiple levels.

1. Restructuring the judicial system and that includes the Ministry of Justice, Courts, and the Prosecutors’ Offices. The restructuring steps needed are: a. Eliminating the corrupt officers who are affiliated with the old regime; b. Rehiring of those who have been fired arbitrarily.’

c. Training all staff on human rights laws and relevant international treaties; d. Creating platforms that engage women and youth in legal and constitutional reform discussions.

2. Legal reforms that looks at the legal codes in general and takes the following steps:

a. Abolishing existing laws that are in violation of basic/fundamental human rights

b. Amending existing laws to be in line with human rights and women’s rights,

c. Adding new laws that ensure inclusivity and constitutional rights for women and minorities.

3. Updating legal policies that govern legal aid, enhancing the public awareness about legal rights, and training new graduate lawyers on legal aid.


The majority of the group’s members were women from the Darfur and Nuba Mountains regions, which are conflict areas. Some of them are currently living in Khartoum. The group‘s priorities include: 36


1. Defining what an area of conflict in Sudan is. The definition the group provided is “an area that has experienced war, intercommunal conflict, and or genocide forcing its inhabitants to dislocate, migrate in small or large groups, to seek safety”. 2. Reconciliations. The most urgent needs to bring peace to conflict areas include: a. Cessation of hostility;

b. Allowing humanitarian aid access to areas of conflict as well as INGOs and local NGOs; c. Reintegration and resettlement of IDPs;

d. Maintaining security to enable IDPs to return to their areas;

e. Engaging communities in transitional justice and reconciliation process through neutral peace commissions and engaging all parties to the conflict, including armed groups, native administrations, and residents; f. Creating media platforms that promote peace;

3. Sustaining peace through:

a. Releasing all prisoners affiliated with armed groups;

b. Engaging women and youth at peace talks and all levels of the process on the ground;

c. Development projects to rebuild the economy and recognizing women’s needs and role in the economy;

d. Setting comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration DDR programs that also recognize women fighters and their needs; e. Building trust among the affected communities;

f. Ensuring that international bodies are present and engaged throughout the peace process to monitor progress and milestones.


The groups set priorities to address the economic disparity in povertystricken areas as well as war zones: 1. Compulsory education for all educational levels.

2. Free primary health care service. Also, health care and health care insurance must be improved and adequate; THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”


3. Setting anti-poverty strategy that looks into the root causes instead of charity approach; 4. Development programs and projects that are gender-sensitive; 5. Providing affordable housing system with scaling prices that is inclusive and realistic;


Even though the groups were small in number, it was diverse in terms of age and social backgrounds. However, women from conflict areas or working-class did not sign up for this group. The group set forth three main priorities: 1. Improvement of communication and coordination among women groups across the country. The group intends to develop a paper on recent and historical efforts made by various women groups in Sudan. 2. Closing the generational gap among women’s movements and groups by organizing informal gatherings to expose women to new experiences and context.

3. Creating a database that includes all active women organizations and their work to facilitate quick access for those who are seeking advice or would like to collaborate with other CSOs. The database will be inclusive and also will include LGBTQIA groups.

It is worth noting that the group with the largest number of members was Social and Economic Justice and the smallest group was the Women’s Movement: Solidarity and Healing.

In addition to the needs listed by the groups, there were everyday needs among the groups, such as emphasizing the need for upscaling women’s knowledge in legal reform, leadership skills, and advocacy with the transitional government. Women also agreed on the need for better coordination among themselves to discuss agendas and priorities, resources and need, and inclusivity when it comes to generational gaps and periphery dynamics. As for the legal reforms, ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was on the top of the list as well as the revision of laws in the criminal code that are negatively impacting women.




• Making women’s presence in politics permanent by cultivating leadership and providing platforms for them to build alliances and campaigns. Otherwise, women’s role in politics will remain temporary or a token representation at best without any executive powers nor long-term authority. • Providing training in basic leadership skills such as public speaking, campaigning, and strategic planning to enable women to run for office at the local and national level. • Developing mentorship programs for younger generations and those joining the public service field.

LAWS AND LEGAL AID • Strengthening women’s movements resources and skills to lobby

and advocate at the governmental level for legal reforms that address women’s issues.

• Programs that educate women about their legal rights and facilitates their access to justice.

• Promoting and supporting women’s participation in judicial and legal system.

GENDER SENSITIVE TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE • Drafting a comprehensive transitional justice program for combating of all forms of violence inflicted on men and women in war zones. (UNSCR 1325 & 1820) BUILDING SOLIDARITY THAT RECOGNIZES INTERSECTIONALITY

• Creating platforms for regular meeting for women groups to discuss their priorities and share resources and lesson learned. Such platforms must be inclusive and open to younger generations and women from diverse backgrounds including women from religiously conservative backgrounds THE WOMEN’S CONVENING: REBUILDING SUDAN “NOTHING ABOUT US, WITHOUT US”


ANNEX 1: SESSIONS AND GUIDING QUESTIONS Session 1: Sudan Revolution – Traditional women’s movement

The participation and role of traditional women’s movement through its NGOs, associations in the capital city in creating change in Sudan through 30 years of struggle

• What are the mechanisms that the women’s movement utilized? • What were their challenges, failures, and success? • What are the lessons learned?

• What is the status of the relationship between the traditional movement and the different movements across the country and the youth? • How can women in Sudan reach equality under the current transformation period in Sudan?

Session 2: Emerging movement – Women from professional societies and the neighbourhood committees and political parties Discussion on the status of women within political bodies and professional societies

• To what extent are the women in these associations and political bodies aware of the gender relations within the different bodies?

• Are there any existing connections with women and other women’s groups / and equality groups? • How can women reach equality and justice in Sudan based on their position?



Session 3: The Female Youth

The female youth’s view in accordance with the female movement

• Do the female youth of Sudan see themselves as an ally of the traditional women’s movement?

• Is the current movement dynamic and reflective of the different views?

• What are the challenges of communication between the youth and the traditional women’s movement?

• What is the view of the female youth in terms of access to justice and equality? • What are their strategies?

Session 4: Women in Conflict and Post-conflict Areas/Their challenges, opportunities and issues of inclusivity (Representatives from Darfur, Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains)

• Who represents the women from conflict and post-conflict settings in Sudan?

• Does the revolution impact the situation of women in these areas in Sudan?

• What is their view of women’s access to justice, equality and peace in conflict and post-conflict settings?



Session 5: Women and Poverty (Access to Resources / Women living on the margins) Poverty as a critical factor in women’s subordination and repression

• Is poverty reflected on the agenda of the current women\s movement as it should be?

• What are the platforms that are addressing women living in poverty? • Are there any strategies in terms of how to address poverty and its manifestations? Session 6: Women’s access to justice – Towards the improvement of laws and policies

• What are the current women’s movement’s strategies in challenging the current legal framework?





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