1) A smooth reintegration of refugees. Refugees, most of whom are women with children, cannot participate in the peace and rebuilding process until they are safely home. The war in Sudan has displaced almost 4 million people, and it is imperative that the crisis be addressed without additional violence or chaos. If women are traveling with children, and are combating poverty, drought, hunger, disease, imprisonment, degradation, and violence, it is simply impossible for them act as agents of the peace and stability that the region desperately needs.
2) Access to justice for victims of sexual violence. Sexual violence in times of war is staggering as women are targeted not just as vulnerable civilians, but also as a strategy of war. Without justice for the victims, along with medical care and treatment, the cycle of violence will never end and these women will not be able to lead full and productive lives. Additionally, a judicial system that allows sexual predators amnesty cannot adequately and justly serve its population.
3) Access to reproductive health care. Particularly in a war that has such high rates of ethnic tension, where forced impregnation is used as a weapon of war, such access is imperative in order to give women control over their bodies and health.
4) Education and training about HIV/AIDS. Such training will not only save lives, but also improve relations as it seeks to end the stigmatization surrounding victims of the disease. After a woman is raped, often her family will not accept her back because of fear of the virus. She is then additionally unable to care for her children and the refugee crisis will become even more pronounced.
5) Opportunity to participate in governing. For example, women need to be involved in the National Transition Team, which prepares and allocates budges for post-conflict reconstruction, in order to ensure that gender-specific needs are addressed.Victory is largely expected for the independence movement, and Southern secession may prove to be a valuable mechanism for women’s engagement. While Northern Sudan has a longer and more established history of women’s activism, the enabling culture of the South, along with its government’s official commitment to advancing women’s rights, has garnered more international support and funding for these activities. The Government of Southern Sudan, for instance, has already set up a Ministry of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare specifically to address gender-related policies. Secession from the North may provide more freedom to pursue gender-sensitive policies, such as the passage of CEDAW (UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). CEDAW cannot be ratified currently as it is a national issue, and in the North, many view the terms of CEDAW as being contrary to Sharia law. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve what the International Crisis Center calls a “gender-sensitive framework for sustainable peace.” The Sudanese people have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity now, and we can only hope that they will do what is necessary to encourage a peaceful and stable transition by promoting women’s participation at all levels.