Women and children in Sudan
Prepared by /Maha Esmeal Ahmed
1- Culture and gender role. 2- Biology and sex. 3- Women in sudan . 4- Political and sudan women. 5- Sudan health system. 6- Childern in sudan . 7- Childern health. 8- Water and sanitation. 9- Food Security. 10Education. 11Protection. 12Economic opportunities and live hood. 13Gender equilty from an international prespective. 14The equity Imperative.
Culture and gender roles: In many prehistoric cultures, women assumed a particular cultural role. In hunter gatherer societies, women were generally the gatherers of plant foods, small animal foods, fish, and learned to use dairy products, while men hunted meat from large animals. In more recent history, the gender roles of women have changed greatly. Traditionally, middle class women were typically involved in domestic tasks emphasizing child care. For poorer women, especially working class women, this often remained an ideal, as economic necessity compelled them to seek employment outside the home. The occupations that were available to them were, however, lower in pay than those available to men. As changes in the labor market for women came about, availability of employment changed from only dirty long houred factory jobs to cleaner more respectable office jobs where more education was demanded, womens participation in the U.S labor force rose from 6% in 1900 to 23% in 1923. These shifts in the labor force led to changes in the attitudes of women at work, allowing for the revolution which resulted in women becoming career and education oriented. Movements advocate equality of opportunity for both sexes and equal rights irrespective of gender. Through a combination of economic changes and the efforts of the feminist movement, in recent decades women in most societies now have access to careers beyond the traditional homemaker(1). Biology and sex: In terms of biology, the female sex organs are involved in the reproductive system, whereas the secondary sex characteristics are involved in nurturing children or, in some cultures, attracting a mate. The ovaries, in addition to their regulatory function producing hormones, produce female gametes called eggs which, when fertilized by male gametes (sperm), form new genetic individuals.
The uterus is an organ with tissue to protect and nurture the developing fetus and muscle to expel it when giving birth. The vagina is used in copulation and birthing (although the word vagina is often colloquially and incorrectly used for the vulva or external female genitalia, which also includes the labia, the clitoris, and the female urethra). The breast evolved from the sweat gland to produce milk, a nutritious secretion that is the most distinctive characteristic of mammals, along with live birth. In mature women, the breast is generally more prominent than in most other mammals. This prominence, not necessary for milk production, is probably at least partially the result of sexual selection(1). Women in Sudan : The position and role of women within Islam has been the subject of considerable interest within Western societies. For example, The Times newspaper has stated that there is a general perception that womens rights in Sudan are in their infancy. The reality is very different. Sudan had one of the first and most active womens movements in the African and Arab world. Even sources hostile to the Sudanese government admit that womens rights are entrenched in Sudan: In comparison with women in many other African and Middle Eastern countries. Sudanese women have become relatively well represented in public life. Women constitute approximately population of 31,600,000.
Women play a key role in the economic field, with females constituting 26.5 percent of the total labour force. This is up from seven percent of the work force in the 1960. Sudans 1998 Constitution clearly states that all Sudanese are equal before the law without discrimination as to sex or race. This is entrenched in Article 21 of the constitution. All labour legislation is based on complete equality between men and women.
The 1998 Constitution reiterated and reinforced earlier equal employment opportunities clauses in the 1973 Constitution. These provisions were reinforced in the 1997 Public Service Act, which provided for equal wages for equal employment, open competition based on competence, qualifications and experience, equal pension rights and equality regarding leave and holidays with due consideration for women being allowed extra special leaves. In November 2000, the President decreed that women would received two years paid maternity leave. While most women work within the agricultural sector, a large percentage also work as professionals, serving as ambassadors, university professors, doctors, lawyers, engineers, senior army officers, journalists and teachers. There are, for example, women major generals in the police. The British government has noted that women are numerous in the administration and the army. In 1996, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa published a book entitled Africas Roll of Distinguished Daughters Of the fifty distinguished African women listed, ten were Sudanese. These included academics, lawyers, journalists and psychologists(2). Political and sudan women: Politically, women are well represented. Sudanese women became involved in nationalist politics from the mid 1940 onwards. Women secured the right to vote in 1953. In Sudan women have an unfettered right to elect and be elected in presidential, federal, state and local elections. To offset innate conservatism and to ensure female participation in political life, there is a quota system guaranteeing female seats and participation in federal and state legislatures. A quarter of all federal parliamentary seats are reserved for women. Women are also ensured a minimum of ten percent of seats in all other state legislatures, and other elected local bodies.
Women have chaired select committees within the federal National Assembly. There have been women ministers in Sudanese governments since the early 1970s. There have been several women ministers in the present government, holding port folios such as health, social welfare, public service and manpower and cabinet affairs. Ihsan Abdallah al Ghabshawi was appointed Minister of Health in 1996. Another prominent woman minister was Agnes Lukudi, who served as the minister of public service and manpower. A southern Sudanese Catholic, she had also served as Governor of Bahr al Jabal State from 1994-98. In 2000, the Sudanese President appointed a cabinet level Advisor on Women Affairs. There is also an Advisor for Womens Affairs within the Southern States Coordinating Council. There have been, and are presently, women ministers within various of the state governments.
There is a womens policy unit within the ministry of social planning, drawing up national policies and plans for womens development. There are related womens development units in many ministries, corporations, institutions and institutes of higher education. The Sudanese Womens General Union is an officially recognized women organization (2). Sudans health system: Sudans health system, focused in a primary health care approach, has paid special attention to the health of women and children since they make up 75 percent of the population. Womens health has always been a focus in Sudan. The first school for midwives in Africa was opened in the Sudan in 1921.
Maternal and child health and reproductive health programmes have been priority areas for the government. Vaccination centres and programmes provide services for mothers, pregnant women and others. The average age of mothers increased from 17.1 years in 1989 to 25.3 by 1993. The Sudanese government states that its programmes reach more than 80 percent of all Sudanese women. Despite the civil war government health coverage programmes are also reaching more women in southern Sudan, up from 2% in 1989 to 25% in 1999. The government has initiated campaigns against harmful traditional practices such as female circumcision (2). Asian feminist: Asian feminist theology can be distinguished from western feminist theology and even womanist theology. Western feminist theology emerged from critical reflections on male centered theology, which was regarded as the dominant theology. Womanist theology focused on the interaction of racism, sexism, and classism. In addition to these systems of oppression, Asian feminist theology critically challenges western colonialism. Asian feminist theology describes Asian womens historical and cultural situation as invisible and marginal, and attempts to interpret Asian womens experiences with their own voices. All of the three theologies of White feminist. Black womanist, and Asian feminist theology emphasize womens unique past and present experiences. As feminism emerged and developed from resistance to male violence, feminist theology was born from resistance to male centered interpretation of human history, Bible stories, and theological doctrines. Feminist theology can be classified as contextual theology in that it critically considers womens unique social, cultural, and historical locations as authentic sources of theology.
Rosemary Radford Ruether clearly points out this fact: 'The uniqueness of feminist theology lies not in its use of the criterion of experience but rather in its use of womens experience, which has been almost entirely shut out of theological reflection in the past. Ruether demonstrates that all theological should be based on the specific human experiences of self, others, world, and God(3). Current situation: The 2006 Sudan Household Health Survey undertaken by the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan, with support from UNICEF, provided the first national indicators on access to education for primary and secondary education for more than 20 years. The Federal Ministry of General Education reports that in the northern states gross primary school enrolment stands at 67.8 per cent, while data from Southern Sudan indicates that enrolment reached over 1.2 million in 2007. Overall, the 2006 Sudan Household Health Survey reported that only 53 percent of children are actually attending classes at any level (although the rapid increase in enrolment in Southern Sudan has probably superseded these statistics), and 49 per cent of girls are missing out on their primary education. Over 900 schools in Southern Sudan are classified as open air learning spaces and nearly all teachers are untrained volunteers, usually unpaid. In its effort to improve education indicators by the year 2012, UNICEF and its partners in Sudan are striving to achieve key results that will include: 1-Enabling 5.2 million children and young people to access quality basic education and other forms of learning. 2- Assisting 250,000 nomadic children to move from primary to secondary schools . 3- Ensuring 1 million children currently out of school have access to alternative forms of education. Shortages of learning spaces and qualified teachers: In the northern states, nearly 5 per cent of primary students have to travel more than 3 kilometres to attend the nearest school, while in urban areas class sizes can exceed 100 students (Federal Ministry of General Education, 2007). In Southern Sudan, coverage of learning spaces ranges from one per five communities to as high as one for every 15 communities.
The Teacher Training Assessment for the northern states of Sudan (source) found that there may be as many as 110,000 unqualified teachers in the education system in the north of Sudan. Assessment indicated that in order to achieve universal primary education without placing additional stain on class sizes, a further 9,500 qualified teachers would be needed every year until 2015. In Southern Sudan, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology reports that 48 per cent of teachers have only completed primary education, with no other qualifications, while a further 7,750 teachers would be required in order to meet the education MDGs. Lack of alternative and (out of school) education: There is a shortage in learning programmes for children who are not enrolled in formal schooling, especially in Southern Sudan. Efforts are being made to develop life skills, literacy, numeracy and vocational training for such young people, with a special focus on demobilized child soldiers, returnee children and other vulnerable children. Costs of education: While basic education is officially free in Sudan, parents incur (out of pocket) costs including contributions towards text books, examination fees, school uniforms and even teacher salaries. In larger families these costs are known to be a major barrier to enrolment, with girls often suffering in favour of boys education. Net intake in primary education 29.5% Net attendance rate of primary aged children 53.7% Gender parity index (primary school) 0.93 Primary school attendance rate of children of secondary school age 35.5% Children reaching grade 5 90.3% Primary completion rate 19.4% Transition to secondary school 64.5% . These fact are intended to provide a short overview of the current situation affecting women and children, and outline UNICEFs support in each major sector. They are not designed as a comprehensive situation analysis. Women and Societal attitudes to education:
In some communities, the role of girls is seen as being limited to domestic helpers, and future wives and mothers playing a supportive role to the men of the family. There is a low premium, especially in rural areas, on sending girls to school. Lack of single sex classes, or female teachers, also act as a barrier to girls attending school especially as they get older. In rural areas especially, boys and girls are expected to work in support of their families. This often keeps children out of school unless class schedules are adapted to fit around key times such as planting and harvesting. UNICEFs programmatic approach: 1-Expanding access to basic educationâ€“ through school construction, provision of school supplies, promotion of Alternative Learning Approaches including vocational training, adult education and literacy programmes, teacher training and social mobilization to promote the value of education amongst Sudanese communities.
2-Support to early childhood development, school readiness and parenting programmes are also being planned. Special attention is being paid to groups such as nomadic children, amongst whom gross enrolment rates are especially low. 3- Promoting girls education for example through support to the Girls Education Movement in Southern Sudan, where children themselves play a central role in promoting education amongst families, and through the development of Parent Teacher Associations. 4- Supporting child friendly school environments, including the provision of water and sanitation facilities. To make schools more conducive to learning, there is a strong focus on improved teaching and learning skills including curriculum reform that encompasses issues such as literacy and numeracy, life skills, psychosocial development, and HIV and AIDS awareness built around a framework of child centered teaching. 5-Supporting the development of institutional capacity at government level to ensure that improvements are sustainable. This includes the establishment of an Education Management Information System to help planners and administrators, support to education policies covering issues such as budgeting and resource
allocations, improved teacher training courses and support for education authorities to better manage financial and human resources. UNICEF supported achievements in 2008: Key education results supported through UNICEFs programmes in 2008 included: 1-Supporting the enrolment of nearly 557,000 additional children (44 per cent of them girls) enrolled in Grade 1 in the north of Sudan, and an estimated 400,000 children in Southern Sudan. 2-Construction and rehabilitation of more than 1,900 new and temporary classrooms in the north of Sudan, and 24 schools constructed or rehabilitated in Southern Sudan. 3- Provision of classroom and learning materials benefiting more than 1.5 million children across Sudan, in addition to providing school uniforms for more than 61,000 girls in the north of the country and working with the UN World Food Programme to support school feeding initiatives that benefited more than 710,000 school children in the northern states. 4-Supporting the development and implementation of teacher training programmes focusing on child friendly teaching methodologies and classroom management skills for over 9,000 teachers in the whole of Sudan. 5-Supporting the participation of local communities in the design and delivery of education, through the training of nearly 10,000 members of local Parent Teacher Associations, as well as training and other activities for more than 11,000 children through networks of school clubs and the Girls Education Movement in Southern Sudan. Providing special assistance for 50,000 girls from nomadic and returneesâ€™ communities to participate in life skills education activities. 6-Continued support to strengthening of education systems and policiesincluding a baseline study of primary education in the northern states and the first teacher headcount in all ten states of Southern Sudan. UNICEF also assisted the Government of Southern Sudan to develop its Education Management Information System to ensure comprehensive data on schools, students and teachers is now available to planners, covering the last three years (4).
Educationally, the present Sudanese enhance equality and access.
There are now more women than men at university. They presently make up 62 percent of students in higher education, compared with 47.2 percent in 1995. This drive has also been reflected in secondary education. Between 1993-98, the enrolment of girls in secondary schools increased by 75 percent. Formal womens education in Sudan dates back to the early 20th century. In 1907, Sheik Babiker established Sudans first private school, a school for girls. The Babiker familys involvement in womens education resulted in the establishment of Ahfad University for women, all the while working to provide quality education for women and seeking equality for women in Ahfad University has over 4,600 students. Tens of thousands of Sudanese women study at many of Sudans other universities. More women enrolled in Sudanese universities in the first five years of the 1990s than the total number of women who had entered universities since independence in 1956. It is very clear that there claims by newspapers such as (The Times)that womens rights are in their (infancy) simply do not reflect the reality of the position, status and activities of women in Sudan. The fact is that within the Arab and Islamic world Sudan has led the way with regard to womens social, political and economic rights(5). Children in Sudan: Save the Children began working in Sudan in 1984, conducting programs for children and families affected by conflict, displacement, extreme poverty, hunger and a lack of basic services. Many of the children and families we served were among the most vulnerable and hardest to reach. In March 2004, with permission of the government of Sudan, Save the Children entered Darfur to address the urgent needs of children and families displaced by several years of conflict.
Within a month of our arrival, we had launched a large scale response that became a sustained relief operation to provide hundreds of thousands of children and adult members of their families especially women with access to lifesaving food and water, basic health care and emergency obstetrical care for women, protection programs, and educational and income generating activities. Health: Save the Children is working to improve the health of women, children and their families through a variety of programs. One aim is to increase immunization coverage against childhood diseases among children under a year old, and among expectant mothers against tetanus. Other efforts include training village midwives to increase the proportion of skilled attendants present at delivery, as well as constructing or rehabilitating health clinics. Water and sanitation: Over the past three years, access to proper sanitary facilities and safe drinking water has been provided to over 100,000 people. Activities include drilling boreholes, repairing hand pumps, installing latrines and promoting safe hygiene. Food Security: In Abyei, thousands of displaced people returning to the region are supported during their reintegration through distributions of food and non food items. School children and teachers in 34 schools receive hot meals through a Food for Education program. Elsewhere in South Kordofan, Save the Children has implemented programs that include distribution of seeds and tools for improved cultivation and offering community managed tractor services to increase agricultural production. Education: Education services in many areas of Sudan, already weak prior to the war, have deteriorated further due to lack of resources, insecurity and poverty. Save the Children seeks to provide children with schools that have a conducive, inclusive, safe and healthy learning environment. Our activities include the construction and rehabilitation of classrooms, provision of school supplies and basic training for teachers.
In addition, we will work with other agencies and institutions to increase enrollment, particularly that of girls. Protection: The protection of Sudanese children remains a critical issue for Save the Children. There are a number of protection issues that we address, including: reintegration of separated children, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers,and support for communities affected by violence. In addition, we have implemented special programs to identify and support vulnerable women in communities and reduce gender based violence. Economic Opportunities and Livelihoods: The goal of our Economic Opportunities and Livelihoods program is to increase the standard of living by improving household incomes. Livelihoods initiatives include poultry production, beekeeping, tree nurseries, the provision of flour mills and vegetable seeds and training for income generating projects (6). Gender Equity From an International Perspective: Women and men appear to have anearly equal status and power in hunting economies like those of the American Indians or African,and in the advanced urban centers of most socities. The effect of industrialization is to bring more and more women into paid employment ,wether in the textile mills of nineteenth century . New England or in the new industrial enclaves in mexico or china .Beccause more people both men and women are employed in manufacturing ,stores and offices ,and professional jobs than in the older rural economy ,advocates for economic development have argued that modernization is the most efficient means of ridding a society of poverty and improving the lives of all (7). The Equity Imperative : Advancing gender equity in the work place involve ,first challenging organizational norms that assume the primacy of paid work in the working peoples lives and that limit the career choices and opportunities of those who seek fulfillments in both work and personal life.
Second ,it means valuing diverse way of working ,recognizing and rewarding the full range of skills and contributions that people bring to an organizations success (8). Men and women are just different : The myth that men and women are just different is persistently explored in the nature . Is it nature(biological sex) or nurture (gender socialization in our environment )that makes men and women different ? The interesting issue with this myth is that the question itself is manifestations of the problem. It assumes that asimplistic, dualistic, either or answer is available for the very complex question of what determines human characteristics (9). Discrimation Against older women: The provisions of the age Discrimination in employment act make it unlawfull for employers to discriminate on the basis of age against any worker age forty and over. In the busirnes world ,middle age arrives earlier for women than for men ,and women are considered old at younger age than men. Men generally first experience the effects of age discriminatory practice and policies in their mid fifties,while women commonly first become aware of age biased employment decisions that adversely affect their work lives in their mid to late forties. The appearance of middle age in awoman is often looked upon as either adisqualification for further advancement or areason for her dismissal . Gray hair may be appropriate for male CEOs and other highly placed male executives ,but not for older female workers (10).
1-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman#Culture_and_gender_roles(2009.12.30). 2-http://www.sudan.net/news/press/postedr/158.shtml(2009.12.30). 3-Bocheol Chang, Asian Feminist Theoiogicai impiications for Pastoral Care of Korean Miiitary Wives(p. 204). 4-http://www.unicef.org/sudan/UNICEF_Sudan_education_fact_sheet_2009.pdf(2009.12.28). 5-http://www.sudan.net/news/press/postedr/158.shtml(2009.12.29). 6-http://www.savethechildren.org/countries/africa/sudan.html(2009.12.29). 7-Jonet Zollinger Giele and Leslie F.Stebbins(2003)Women and Equality in the work place.Untited states of America:Library of congress(p.3). 8- Joyce K.Fletcher&Bettye H.pruitt(2002).Beyond work_Family Blance.United state:Jossey-Bass (p.2). 9- Mary Krik (2009).Gender and Information Technology:Moving Beyond Acess to creat global partnership.Untied state of America:Information science Referance (p.12). 10-Raymond F.Gregory(2003).Woman and work place discrimination overcoming Barriers to gender Equality.United state of America:Rutgers University Press(p.48).