Sudan’s 2019 revolution, which abruptly ended the military regime of Omar al-Bashir, showed the world that Sudanese women are standing shoulder to shoulder with men in the fight for democracy. Powerfully, the image that has become synonymous with the revolution in Sudan is that of Alaa Salah; a young woman, dressed in white, passionately addressing protesters. For many, Salah became a symbol of hope and of women’s stake in Sudan’s future.
While there is much to celebrate when looking back on the role of women during the 2019 uprising, the protests were just one step in the journey towards women’s full political participation. The sustained representation and inclusion of women in the formal corridors of power must follow. Women must have a seat at the negotiating table and play an important role in driving political change.
Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) is working to support women who are at the forefront of the fight for inclusive and accountable democracy in Sudan by helping to ensure that they are as well-equipped as possible to play an active role in formal Sudanese politics.
Since Sudan’s declaration of independence in 1956, the country has suffered periods of instability, including two civil wars and volatile governments. In late 2018, Sudan saw active citizen protests demanding a civilian government. These demonstrations culminated in the overthrow of Bashir in April 2019 and the installation of the Transitional Military Council (TMC). Soon after, the military and civilian protesters represented by the Sudanese Professional Association reached several agreements to develop a power-sharing government.
Currently, the country’s political institutions are navigating a complex peace process; one in which women’s rights are prioritised and voices heard. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 asserts that women’s leadership and the promotion of women’s rights are priorities for international peace and security. Research shows that when women are engaged in a peace process, outcomes are more durable and long-lasting.
In December 2019, WFD engaged 32 Sudanese women – representing all factions of the Sudan Peace Negotiation – in training workshops. The workshops focused on building the women’s negotiation skills to prepare them for involvement in the peace process. As a result of the training, the women are equipped with increased understanding of and ability to work with the negotiation tracks of security, governance, and humanitarian assistance, and with integrative bargaining techniques.
What is more, WFD facilitated a visit for a Sudanese delegation to Tunisia in February 2020. The delegates, who all play an active role in the country’s transition process, included members of the interim government, the Transitional Sovereignty Council, and Sudanese Civil Society Organisations. As a result of this visit, key actors in Sudan’s transition process have been able to draw on the lessons and experience of Tunisia’s democratic transition process, including the importance of the role of women in securing an inclusive democracy.
WFD continues to support actors working towards a peaceful, inclusive and accountable democracy in Sudan; a democracy that upholds and prioritises the rights of women. Find out more about our work in Sudan.