In South Sudan: empowering women through strengthened livelihoods

“It is a terrifying reality that women in South Sudan have little to no rights,” explains Abdal Monium Osman, FAO Head of Programmes in South Sudan.


A recent FAO assessment shows that during the most volatile periods in South Sudan, women ensured the survival of their families by adapting and adopting new roles previously carried out by men such as fishing and ox-ploughing in order to ensure food production. As a result, women instigated change in cultural attitudes and beliefs; however, there is still a long way to go. 

“Women here are not worth much – a man would rather lose his wife than one of his cows,” says Mary (pseudonym), a 40-year-old woman from Rumbek. “My husband makes all the decisions for myself and our family, and when we have money he decides what it is spent on. There are times when we do not have enough food in the house because he has bought alcohol, and my children will come to me asking for food, which I do not have.” 

In 2016, FAO worked with over 600 women like Mary, through the farmer field school approach, paving the way for their empowerment by strengthening their livelihoods. 

“Before I joined FAO’s farmer field school, I knew nothing about taking care of vegetables. I would plant some sorghum (cereal) around the house, but it would not be enough. With the group I prepared the vegetable garden, and planted in my own plot. The teacher would tell me what to do, and when the harvest came I never imagined that I would have so much food for my family. I learned a lot from that time, and I started planting more and more. This gave me some money, and I can buy the things I want. It is my money and my husband cannot decide for me.”

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