LONDON (TrustLaw) - Below are some facts on women in South Sudan which is set to become the world’s newest country on July 9.
Political participation: Women hold 34 percent of seats in parliament. There are seven women ministers. The interim constitution gives women a minimum 25 percent representation in any decision-making body. It says this affirmative action is designed “to redress imbalances created by history, customs and traditions”.
Education: Only 27 percent of girls attend primary school. In some states it is far lower. Secondary school attendance is negligible in many places. Around 84 percent of females (over 15) are illiterate compared to 60 percent for males. However, UNICEF says children’s enrolment in schools has increased three-fold since before the 2005 peace deal. The constitution says the government shall ensure there is free and compulsory primary education for girls and boys alike and illiteracy eradication programmes.
Early marriage: Some girls marry as young as 14. In Unity State, 24 percent of girls are married by 15 and 57 percent by 18, according to a 2006 government survey. The constitution lays down 18 as the minimum age of marriage and says neither women nor men shall be married against their will.
Maternal mortality: The maternal mortality rate is around 1,700 per 100,000 live births. Medecins Sans Frontieres says women have a one in seven lifetime chance of dying during childbirth. A 15-year-old girl has more chance of dying in childbirth than completing school. Only 10 percent of births in South Sudan are assisted by skilled health personnel, compared to 57 percent countrywide. Most deaths would be avoidable if women had access to obstetric care. But there are only 10 registered midwives in South Sudan.
Population and poverty: South Sudan’s population is very young. More than half are under 18 and 62 percent under 30. More than 80 percent of the population is rural and half live below the poverty line. The average per capita consumption is 100 Sudanese pounds per month ($37). For the poor it is 39 SDG ($14.6).
Right to own land: The constitution says women can own land, but also that it recognises customary land rights under customary land law.
What the constitution says about women:
Women shall constitute at least 25 percent of the legislature and executive at national and state level and 25 percent of independent institutions and commissions. The national and state judiciaries shall have a “substantial representation of women”.
1. Women shall be accorded full and equal dignity of the person with men
2. Women shall have the right to equal pay for equal work and other related benefits
3. Women shall have the right to participate equally with men in public life
4. All levels of government shall:
- promote women’s participation in public life
- enact laws to combat harmful customs and traditions which undermine the dignity and status of women
- provide maternity and child care and medical care for pregnant and lactating women
5. Women shall have the right to own property and share in the estate of their deceased husband together with any surviving legal heirs