Women Building Peace in South Sudan: Agnes Wasuk Petia and Awak Deng (5:20)
We were born in war, grew up in war, became moms in war and again,
some of us are grandmoms in war and feel like our children what will they inherit from us?
Wars, destruction? We need to do something as moms. South Sudan is the world’s youngest country, and one of its most fragile. In South Sudan, women and girls are subjected to violence from the ongoing civil war. We have been in conflict since 1955. Everyone is really traumatized. We didn’t even get to
heal from the war and then we have another war going on. It’s a really big trauma and it’s affecting people in their daily lives. You can’t come out in the morning
and guarantee that you will go back home safe. Since 2013, more than 40,000 South Sudanese have been killed
and at least a quarter of the population, more than 4 million people, have been displaced internally
and some to neighbouring countries. The conflict has led to a famine affecting over six million people,
scorched earth campaigns, ethnic cleansing, child soldiers, and gender-based violence as a weapon of war. Sometimes people hear the root causes of conflict in South Sudan is tribal. Actually it is not tribal, it was political
but then people started to divide themselves based on their leaders. For us, the church, we are looking at this conflict as senseless.
It has no meaning. The KAIROS Women of Courage program works with grassroots
women’s organizations such as the National Women’s Programme of the South Sudan Council of Churches. This women-focused peacebuilding work is part of the
fabric of communities throughout South Sudan. The National Women’s Programme includes Catholics and Protestants
and focuses on gender justice issues, including gender-based violence and getting women engaged in the
formal peace process. The National Women’s Programme’s “Action Plan for Peace”
creates safe and neutral spaces for truth-telling and bridging the conflict gap among communities. The Council of Churches now currently is committed.
It’s a strategy that composes of three pillars. That is advocacy, neutral forum and reconciliation. Bringing the influential leaders of the conflicting parties, and talk to them,
for them to change the narrative, from the narrative of war to peace. We are about 500 women who come out every month,
to denounce in saying stop this war. We in South Sudan are networking with many women programs,
women in caucus, women parliamentarians, because the women that are violated sometimes they don’t get
a way through to get their rights. So we in the church, because the church is neutral, we don’t side,
but we do speak the truth and find a way to help the vulnerable. Agnes Petia and Awak Deng from the Churches’ Council toured Canada
in late 2017. They visited seven cities in four provinces to explain how
women in South Sudan are trying to bring peace to their country, and how Canadians can help. I’ve learned a lot. There’s one thing I’m going to take back home:
the experience of the Indigenous people. I visited a healing hospital in Regina and that Indigenous man
who is responsible for the spiritual medicines there talked to us about the importance of forgiving. And he was like, “Lack of forgiveness is always
disconnecting a human being”. So let us forgive, so that we are connected.
Our connectivity with ourselves connects us with the Creator. I’m going to take it back to our people there. The woman of courage is a woman that has faced a lot of problems
but is still strong enough to stand up for themselves and for others. Women of courage is the strength that KAIROS Canada gives to women
to come out and speak for the voiceless. KAIROS is really accompanying the women to become courageous.