(Women's News Network) Girls, not guns: The promise of progress for South Sudan
Juba, SOUTH SUDAN, AFRICA: During the first year of independence for the world’s newest nation, women of South Sudan united to amplify their voices and ensure their rights are guaranteed in the constitution and enforced by the government. These efforts have led to some milestones in the development of women’s rights in South Sudan, but many challenges still remain.
At the top of the list is education. According to the National Baseline Household Survey conducted in 2009 and released in June 2012, only 28 percent of women in South Sudan ages 15 to 24 are literate and only 16 percent of females older than 15 are literate. Additionally, the survey reported a gender parity index showing a 7-10 female to male ratio for primary school education in South Sudan, compared with 4-10 female to male ratio at the secondary level, indicating that more than twice as many males attend secondary school than females.
This gendered gap in education is rooted in traditionally held beliefs and practices that women are better off to be married at a young age than kept in school. This has become a primary concern for many South Sudanese women, who are pushing for legislation that would prohibit marriage before age 18 to ensure their daughters a chance at education.