NWERO: Empowering Women & Girls in South Sudan Amidst Crisis

Thank you to all who supported and donated to this successful appeal. Your support helps to safeguard sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls in South Sudan and secure their future.

South Sudan, a land of unparalleled biodiversity, boasts the world’s second-largest wildlife migration, akin to the famous Serengeti, and is home to Africa’s largest wetland. However, beneath its natural splendour, the country contends with political instability and internal conflicts that have contributed to persistent poverty, restricted access to education and healthcare, and underdevelopment.

Source: UNICEF, World Bank, World Vision

These challenges disproportionately impact women and girls due to deep-rooted patriarchal norms and harmful social customs that undermine their fundamental rights and curtail their decision-making autonomy.

Source: World Vision

Adding to these challenges, the conflict in Sudan since April 2023 has caused a regional humanitarian crisis, displacing over 3 million people. This conflict has led to an overwhelming influx of South Sudanese returning to seek safety in their homeland, which already faces some of the highest levels of displacement and humanitarian need in the world. These challenges are further compounded by the effects of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In this complex landscape, NWERO, our new Empower to Plan partner based in the capital of South Sudan, Juba, is working with women, adolescents, and the wider community to implement vital socio-economic community development initiatives focussed on gender justice, gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Through Empower to Plan, you can help NWERO:

  • Trained 25 vulnerable adolescent girls and young women (aged 16-24 years), who previously dropped out of school, in SRHR education, including GBV prevention. This has empowered them to make informed choices regarding positive health practices, family planning, and assert their sexual and reproductive rights.
  • Established an adolescent health club in a school which now serves as a platform for open discussions about SRHR issues, such as teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and GBV.
  • Conducted monthly community meetings on HIV/AIDS and GBV prevention, SRHR, promoting access to family planning services and nurturing a pro-choice health-seeking mindset in the community.
  • Produced and broadcasted radio jingles on SRHR, enhancing awareness about family planning, contraception, and the benefits of proactive health planning for mothers and infants.

Through the active involvement of beneficiaries and key stakeholders, including the Juba County Health Department, the project has empowered women and girls, enabling them to make informed decisions involving their futures.

With financial support from Population Matters, we will be able to nurture and empower women and girls in South Sudan around SRHR, HIV, and GBV issues. We hope to reach out and engage with the community, including the returnees from Sudan to discuss and address these issues, and reduce vulnerabilities.”

Editha Meling Leju, Executive Director, NWERO

With one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world at 789/100,000 live births (WHO) and access to public healthcare at only 28%, women in South Sudan face heightened health-related vulnerabilities, depriving them of their rights. Moreover, decades of conflict have sustained a culture of violence that continues to permeate throughout society, especially against women and girls – adding to the complexities of their situation.

Source: UNICEF

Like Population Matters, NWERO believes women and adolescent girls have enormous potential to improve their lives. However, the lack of choice and awareness, unmet health needs, coupled with low health-seeking behaviour, high illiteracy rates, negative social norms and misconceptions about family planning have prevented them from doing so.

We hope to build capacities of women and adolescent girls to shape decisions and advocate for positive changes related to child marriage, unwanted pregnancies, and exposure to STIs. These efforts collectively contribute to improved maternal health, reduced violence, and brighter prospects. Thank you for your generous support.”

Editha Meling Leju, Executive Director, NWERO

South Sudan’s history is one of resilience and struggle, with hopes for a more stable and prosperous future. Amid the ongoing crisis, NWERO’s efforts have become even more crucial. Your contribution has the potential to break down barriers, empower choices, and enhance health and well-being in South Sudan. Together, we can support a brighter future for these resilient communities.

Thank you.

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