The sudden violence that erupted in the country on April 15, 2023, has left thousands dead and millions of internally displaced people. It has resulted in a deterioration of living conditions in the host states in Sudan, among which Gedaref, situated in Eastern Sudan, on the border with Ethiopia.
Despite state’s capital city under the same name ‘Gedaref’ being largely shielded from direct conflict, it has been grappling with significant challenges due to the influx of internally displaced persons arriving, mostly, from Khartoum. Overcrowded markets, soaring food prices, and unreliable electricity services have been exacerbating tensions, leading to an increase in episodes of violence, especially targeting women and girls.
To help cope with the situation, Hadiya, Mubashar, and Rogia, 3 of the 67 participants in the training "Developing and Establishing Gender Champions" have been trying to curb the increase in incidents of gender-based violence (GBV). Within the WE-RISE! Project funded by the European Union, the training activity was implemented by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) in partnership with Mercy Corps, between June and July 2023.
Even before the fighting broke out on 15 April, more than 3 million women and girls in Sudan were at risk of gender-based violence, including intimate-partner violence, according to UN estimates. This number has since climbed to an estimated 4.2 million people. The number of individuals in need of GBV services has risen to 1.3 million.
"We must apply the knowledge gained from the training to find solutions to issues impacting women. This goes beyond merely addressing physical violence; it also involves tackling sensitive topics such as female genital mutilation (FGM), the exclusion of girls from schools at certain ages, and child marriages. Utilising our newfound knowledge, we can actively educate and raise awareness in our community to bring about positive change," stated Hadiya.
In this context, Mercy Corps organised a series of training courses from June 22 to 25 and July 18 to 20 tackling 40 women and 27 men from diverse age groups and backgrounds, including students, self-employed and daily workers, housewives, youth volunteers, and members of the community service committee. The training was designed to deepen participants’ understanding of GBV and harmful social norms, its root causes, and its impact on individuals and communities. Through interactive sessions led by qualified facilitators, the participants discussed social norms that perpetuate violence against women and girls.
One of the key objectives of the training was to raise awareness of the importance of consent and healthy relationships. Participants were trained to recognise signs of abuse and how to offer support to survivors in a sensitive manner. The training also placed a strong emphasis on the role of young people in shaping the impact of social networks as an effective tool to counter harmful gender stereotypes still prevalent in society.
"I learned important concepts, like the difference between sex and gender, justice, equality, and power and how it differs between the genders,” says Mubashar.
Mubashar has been nominated as the "Gender Champion" for his unwavering commitment to gender equality and his willingness to address "uncomfortable" topics in his community. Through this training, his knowledge and community mobilisation tools have significantly improved, hence enabling him to take a more proactive role within his community, family, and in his university towards eradicating harmful social norms.
"Through advocacy campaigns and by using social media, I plan to spread awareness on GBV and all related information. I will also address this subject in women gatherings and listen to their thoughts and ideas without forcing mine. I have learnt that we need to understand the issue and to recognise it, so you are able to solve it, like when husbands in my community are violent to their wives,’’ Rogia claims.
The gender-based violence training concluded with an action planning session, in which the participants were encouraged to develop ideas and initiatives to address the issue in their respective communities. The impact of this training should be far-reaching. By providing individuals with knowledge and skills, Gedaref is taking significant steps toward creating a safer and more inclusive society. The hope is that the trained participants will become gender champions, inspiring others to combat harmful social norms and work towards eradicating gender-based violence.
More about the Project:
The EU-funded WE-RISE! – Women’s Empowerment for Resilience, Inclusion, Sustainability and Environment project is implemented by AICS and UN Women. The project aims to create a conducive environment for the economic empowerment of women and other socially excluded groups living in the most vulnerable situations in Khartoum, Kassala, Gedaref and the Red Sea States through financial inclusion schemes, strengthening of women’s entrepreneurial capacities and promotion of positive social norms, in a period of 38 months (Feb-2021 - Mar-2024).
EIGE, Persistent practices and behaviours that are grounded on discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, age and other grounds as well as multiple and/or intersecting forms of discrimination that often involve violence and cause physical and/or psychological harm or suffering.
- Publication date
- 9 August 2023
- Directorate-General for International Partnerships
- Region and Country
- Horn of AfricaSudan
- Strengthening resilience of communities
- Agenzia italiana per la cooperazione allo sviluppoUnited Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of WomenMercy Corps