Women face a difficult situation in Sudan, especially in the north, where Sharia laws severely limit the lives of women and children. Female circumcision is common. UN Women, which Sida supports, is working as part of a large programme in Sudan to strengthen and protect women’s human rights and equality in the country. One way of achieving that is to get women more involved in democratic governance and decision-making processes. In 2008 and 2009, the programme was focussing on the 2009 election.
“Part of it is about getting women more involved in the election and getting more of them to vote,” says Fatma A. Fattah Abdel Karim, programme manager for gender equality and human rights at UN Women in Sudan.
UN Women is cooperating with several parties to achieve its target. Regarding the structures around the actual election, the organization is working together with the national election commission.
“We’ve supplied the commission with a gender advisor to ensure that the election process is handled in a way that is gender equal and women-friendly,” Fattah Abdel Karim says.
UN Women was working to strengthen the role of women in society both as voters and candidates in the 2010 election. Women are being educated within the area of civics and domestic observation. UN Women has also helped strengthen the role of non-governmental organizations in the coming election.
“In northern Sudan, we’re supporting 50 organizations working as election observers to ensure that women’s rights are met in the election,” Fattah Abdel Karim says.
UN Women is also supporting a forum established by women from various political parties. The aim is for women to develop a common agenda that will ensure women’s rights are protected after the election.
The media is important in securing women’s rights and opportunities in conjunction with the election. Together with various media organizations, UN Women is working to spread information to support women’s political participation, promote women both during and after the election and to ensure that the topic is not excluded from the media.
“In northern Sudan, we’re working with Sudan’s Ministry of Communication to produce and broadcast dramas, songs and sketches that highlight women’s rights in general and their engagement in the election, both as voters and also as candidates, in particular,” Fattah Abdel Karim says.
The democratic nationwide election in 2010 is the result of the peace agreement.