I am a Southern Sudan woman, born during the war, grew in the war and brought up her children in exile in Kenya. I came to Kenya in 1993, having studied in Egypt from 1989–1992. Lived in Kenya all this years, came to Juba the capital City of Southern Sudan after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. However, having lived in Kenya as a refugee since 1993, my children are still studying there due to lack of good education facilities and teachers. In addition the curricular used in southern Sudan is very different and most schools function in Arabic. This made me to keep two homes and visit Kenya frequently to see my children. As the Executive Director for the organization, I receive and transmit VFC’s official communications; maintain high level contacts with appropriate government officials and ensure that all the organizational policies and procedures are adhered to and timely reporting to the Donors; approves budget and staff recruitment, fundraising and represent VFC at a high levels meetings and other forums.
I call myself a feminist, because I believe in the feminist values of a disciplined work ethic guided by integrity and accountability at all times, expanding and strengthening a multi-generational network and pool of feminist leaders across the continent; ensuring that feminist movement is recognized as a legitimate constituency for women in leadership position; building and expanding our knowledge and information base on an ongoing basis as the foundation of shaping our analysis and strategies and for championing a culture of learning beginning with ourselves within the feminist movement to mention but a few.
The use of the word feminist is very much contested by both women’s organizations and individuals. There are many in southern Sudan who are committed to the Charter of Feminist Principles and values and would want to be members but who do not wish to be called feminists due to the connotations attached to the identity. There is also a lack of clear understanding f the difference between the women’s movement and the feminist movement. Secondly, there is a need to find creative strategies that would engage women at the grassroots to actively participate in feminist movement activities. To address this we need to continue investing in women’s leadership development (in particular in Southern Sudan), in increased networking and collaboration, and widespread education to address the divides between women.
I tell people that I am a feminist because I fight the oppressive and exploitative structures that discriminate and marginalized women. As an institution we have ensured that we include feminist components in our training.