By Dengadong – Juba
Hon. Susan Wasuk Sokiri is equally the chairperson for Women Parliamentary Caucus, an office entrusted to deal with women affairs in the National Parliament. The office is working up efforts to create more empow- erment projects aiming at elevating burden of women hardship in the country.
“Initially we did not have a big budget from the nation budget but this year, the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the administration of the parliament allocated for us small funds to run our day to day activities in the parliament here”. She added that women parliamentary Caucus would make sure that women benefited from Community Development Funds’ projects (CDF) Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Real Woman Magazine, a couple of weeks ago, she said the women parliamentary caucus has written some project proposals to its partners requesting several women training centers to be established and one of its partner has so far responded positively and it had already gave them one resource center that will be used to train women on various skills.
However, in order to shed more light on what they are doing for women while in women leadership, the Real Woman Magazine caught up in an interview with Hon. Susan Wasuk, a women who labored so much advocating for years to see to it that women are empowered and their Rights are respected.
Welcome to the interview Hon. and thanks so much for taking your time to speak to us and we would like you to share your reflections as a woman in leadership.
Tell us briefly about your background and how did you managed to come to this position?
I started my primary School in Northern Sudan from 1972- 1977 and completed my junior school in 1973 and upon completion of my junior school, l moved to the then Southern Sudan where I joined Juba girl for my secondary school from 1980 to 1983.
Some years later, I left for Itang in Ethiopia with my husband in 1984 and I quickly joined the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM/A) in 1985 and since then I had been serving women in difference capacities through women Association.
In 1991 after the fall of Mengistu Mariam, I got chance to go to Nairobi with my children. While in Nairobi, I managed to resume my studies and I started first with English course offered by British Council and I later on went to the college after I had struggled to put my children to school. With the support of women association founded by Paulino Riak, I went to the college and did community development studies and community health for three years. And after graduation I returned to South Sudan in 2000 and started working with one of the organization in Rumbek—that is when I started working with the women.
I worked in Rumbek from 2000 to 2004 then I was taken to Maban and I worked there until the Com- prehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. After the CPA I got a job with Pact Sudan program and I was taken to Wau and em- ployed as community development officer in charge
of Warrap and Wau. While in Wau I had also worked with women. In 2010 when people were preparing
for general elections, I was approached by the women in our area and they said that me and the rest of the women including the current governor of Warrap State that you women must go to the parliament so that
you continued supporting us like what you have been doing during the war so I accepted the offer, I went and contested for the election and I managed to came
to the National Assembly as an MP starting from 2010 until I was made a chairperson of women parliamentary caucus in 2013 .
Is it because you did not prepare to become a politi- cian or you just accepted because women encourage you to do so?
Yes, I did not like to go to politics but I accepted simply because I did not wanted to let down the women.
So what are you doing now generally as a payback to women?
You know, pay them back cannot be seen directly but we are trying to offer trainings; we are training them to create awareness in areas where women should know their rights, we are also trying to make them participate in business, we are trying to train them business skills and on top of these, whatever we are doing here in the parliament we must make sure that women benefited, this project of CDF, we will make sure that women benefit from community development funds (CDFS) as soon the funds is released. During the elections campaign in 2010 I moved around all the villages and I have seen that women are really suffering.
And because of that, I came and wrote the proposal and it was successful, I provided 20 boreholes but I will do more of these when we are given the funds. These are some of the things we need to do to ensure that the hardships that women are facing in this country are uplift.
You came a long way, what does this life experience mean to you and your fellow women?
It is not easy especially when you left your home area, your parent and you went to the bush and bringing up the children without a father because when I left I did not know exactly where we are going, when we reached Itang I remembered when a Battalion known as Mor- Mor was sent to the frontline, the day they left Itang for frontline, we women were left alone with children, there were only few men at the center. So when we went to the river to fetch water in the morning the following day, we were thinking that there was something big that is going to happen. You see we came with our men from Sudan and they just left us suddenly but we managed to came together as women through creating program to keep us busy, for instance women association so that we managed to make ourselves busy so that we forget the hardship not also thinking about your father, mother, brothers and sisters that you have left behind. So it was a hard experience.
Do you have some projects that you are working on now for women?
As the women parliamentary caucus, initially in the caucus we do not have very big budget from the national budget but the good news is that we have a provision in constitution that allow us to work with National and international organizations, civil society, other women groups and we have already made two proposals requesting assistance from our partners. For example, the UN Women provided us with three offices and one resource center. Again, we have two embassies to equip these centers with more computers, Internet and books for training the women
Do you think the center will be accessible to all women?
Our constitution said, the women parliamentary caucus will be working within the ten states of South Sudan, we are working with state Assembly, it means that whatever, we are taking to the state Assembly it has to reach the women at the grass root.
What are the challenges facing you?
One of the challenges is lack of funds, we do not have money because sometimes we can have programs that we want to do but due to lack of money, it always
limited our work. The other challenge is the
insecurity because as we speak you cannot move freely in the other states.
Is there any instances in which men look you down?
Looking down by man is something obvious “it is just there,” it is us not to give them chance by saying let us sit down because man do not want us, man normally do not like to see women upgrading, it is our role as women to fight for our rights. However, thanks to late Dr. John Garang, he told us one day that women 25% did not came from nothing, it came from somewhere and he further warned us not sit back and said man will give our share instead he advised us to fight for our rights “Our contribution as women in the
liberation struggle that started from 1983 to 205 is what gave us this 25%”. It can be taken away if you are not careful despites the fact it is stipulated in the
constitution. If we cannot talk, ask and claim, it can just be taken. It is our role as women leaders to work hard and see to it that women are awoken up, we need to make awareness for the young women who are behind us so that they can grow knowing what is
How do you see yourself in the next five years
comparing with the years back?
Basically, it is better now if I can compare where I came from and with where I am now. However, in five years to come I want to see myself above and above and even in the top than where I am now. If I really sit down sometimes and compared where I came from up to this moment, I can see great difference.
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies among others are cooking, reading and making friends
Perhaps a word of advice to young South Sudanese women