Cases of sexual gender based violence in parts of the country are on the rise since July 2016, following the conflict that broke out in Juba. Anecdotal reports indicate that more than 70% of women in Juba are victims of sexual violence, over 60% of whom are rape survivors. Most of these rape cases go unreported because the survivors fear being stigmatized within their communities and also in some cases, for their security. In most incidences the rape survivors do not receive post-rape medical assistance primarily due to inadequate local support structures to address such cases.
In its response, SAADO, with support from the French Embassy, has this week initiated a pilot program (GBV Prevention and Response) for the next four months to strengthen the capacity of women and girls survivors between the ages of 14 to 49 years through identifying solutions and strategies to addressing Gender Based Violence in fragile communities of Kator Payam in Juba.
The deal signed by SAADO Programs Director Stephen Omondi on behalf of the organization and His Excellency Jean-Yves Roux, the French Ambassador to Juba, also provides for the extension of SAADOs flagship program for women; the Women Economic Empowerment program for another three months. The project seeks to promote socio-economic upliftment of women through micro-enterprises and mainstreaming women participation in household and local decision making processes.
“…we all know that women are strategic leaders in economic development in a country and it is essential to develop that aspect and to help South Sudanese women develop their own economic activities and their own business. We know that not only in South Sudan, France and any were else that women are more effective getting the best with money invested so it’s very good,” said the French Ambassador, Jean-Yves Roux, at the signing ceremony at SAADO.
The GBV Prevention and Response program seeks to strengthen coping mechanisms of some 2,200 households in the targeted area with recovery support including basic emotional and practical support, engaging survivors of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and other vulnerable women and girls in psycho-social activities including stringing beads and bed-sheets embroidery (doing needlework decorations on bed-sheets) within a designated friendly space, among other activities.
By the end of the program in October, the targeted survivors of sexual violence should have developed sustainable resilience and confidence to seek both common and special care services within the community; the women should have developed coping mechanism for sustainable recovery from their past sexual based experiences and the capacities of the community and local structures should have been improved to a standard of providing demand-driven and accessible care services.
For his part, SAADO Programs Director, Stephen Omondi affirmed SAADO’s commitment to providing continuous support to women with the aim of improving their livelihoods and their capacities to support their families through working with partners such as the French Embassy and others.
“Yes we thank the France embassy for the support that they have given to our women; we know that this contribution will make a difference to lives and communities in South Sudan. As SAADO we are committed to making sure that our women are able to feed their families take care of the children and improve the economy of South Sudan,” he said.
The Women Economic Empowerment Program activities include improving livelihoods and access to financial resources for women; training women on micro-enterprise management based on the International Labor Organization Entrepreneurship model; establishing a rotational group financial savings pool to which each member contributes a given small amount of money which later remitted to each member; and providing seed capital to set up grocery businesses for targeted women, among others.
Also during the training, the women are engaged in cross-cutting discussions on issues sexual and gender-based violence; discussions here involve identification of SGBV issues and how effectively they can be addressed.
Eighty-Seven women have so far benefited on the Women Economic Empowerment program. SAADO aims at expanding the program beyond Juba targeting at least 300,000 from across the ten states across the country.