The First Deputy Speaker, Hon. Malungo A. Chisangano, attended the International Conference on Women’s Transformational Leadership, that was held from 13th February, 2022, to 15th February, 2022 in Juba, South Sudan. The conference was held under the umbrella theme of, “Transformational Leadership in Women, Peace and Security.”

Hosted by Her Excellency, Mrs Rebecca Nyandeng De Maboir, the Vice-President of the Republic of South Sudan responsible for the Gender and Youth Cluster, the conference drew over 430 participants from the states of South Sudan and fifteen African countries, among them, global women leaders; including former heads of state, peace laureates, parliamentarians, civil society leaders and the international community.

Over the years, women have made significant strides globally in socio-political and economic spheres. The ground-breaking United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security established the centrality of women’s leadership in peace building, conflict resolution and security discourses. Nevertheless, these advancements have been hampered by structural inequalities anchored on patriarchal culture, gender, social norms and discriminatory laws and practises. South Sudan, like many post conflict countries, faces additional challenges as a result of protracted conflict, amongst which are gender-based violence and fragile governance. Further, in South Sudan, like many African countries, women’s representation in decision-making positions falls below the threshold of, at least, 35 per cent, as gender representation and quotas are not fulfilled, as prescribed, and achieving substantive gender equality remains elusive. In answer to this, this intentional conference presented an opportunity to women to share experiences, deepen and expand regional and international networks to catalyse learning in support of African women at large, and South Sudanese Women, in particular, in advancing women’s leadership in the sphere of peace and security.

In her contribution during the plenary on women’s economic empowerment, the First Deputy Speaker shared how the Government of the Republic of Zambia has provided an enabling and supportive environment for women through the delivery of requisite policies, regulations and infrastructure. She mentioned that the Government has implemented intiatives in the education sector such as the provision of free education; the Keep Girls in School Programme as well as enhanced the re-admission of school drop-outs and engaged in the distribution of sanitary ware. Realising that education is the cornerstone of any meaningful development, it is without a doubt that an educated woman is an empowered woman. She further talked about the empowerment of women in the mining sector through access to funds via the mining initiative; booster loans, which are disbursed to marketeers, who are predominantly women, to enable them recaptilise their businesses; and she also talked about how women are encouraged to form corporatives in order to collectively access funds via the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

This conference was a manifestation that women have embraced their strength and want to use it to serve at various levels of leadership, as the Arabic phrase rightfully states, “GuwataMara”, meaning the strength of a woman.