“Women’s economic empowerment is not about money.”

Nahid, Superwoman # 3:

“The biggest challenge for women’s empowerment in Sudan has to do with the absence of a positive environment, including both the legal framework and policy as well as the weak understanding of women’s empowerment in society as a whole. People often talk about empowerment as if it is something for intellectuals only. This is not true. For women’s empowerment to be effective it has to be a social movement that involves women everywhere and targets the root causes of discrimination and marginalization of women.

Empowerment also needs democracy. Democracy and a culture of human rights are conditions for women’s empowerment. In turn, women’s empowerment is a condition for prevention of violence and for rehabilitation of victims and survivors.

Women’s empowerment always takes place in a context, not in a vacuum.

Nahid, Superwoman # 3.
Nahid, Superwoman # 3.

I would say the most encouraging development in the last twenty years is that there is now a stronger women’s movement in civil society and political parties in Sudan. There are more women involved and engaged and they have started working seriously on issues related to women’s empowerment. One essential element of this is breaking the silence on violence against women, women’s political participation and women’s rights in general. For this to be fruitful the positive environment is vital. This is where the government also plays a major role. Also internationally and regionally women’s issues are coming forward in a more focused and at the same time comprehensive way.

What we need to do is to build the capacity of women’s groups and networks, for them to get involved at the grassroots level in communities. The Superwoman network is a good example of this. Even within the existing limited resources and mechanisms we can bring actors together and work in a more efficient way.

Among the GBV survivors who reach us at SEEMA, we can see the great demand for service points like hospitals, legal aid and psychosocial services. The demand greatly exceeds the supply.

The economic aspect of empowerment is also linked with protecting women. It is not only important in terms of fulfillment of basic needs. It is a matter of empowering the women themselves to stand for their rights and continue their lives in a positive way. One of the causes of women being vulnerable to violence is economic dependency. Sometimes the circle of violence can not be broken because the victims are dependent on the abuser, such as a supervisor or family member.

Economic empowerment is not a matter of money. It is a matter of building women’s independence and giving them the power of decision-making and control over their future.

In terms of inspiring examples, there are of course a lot of individual success stories. For me personally, the most impressive example of individual empowerment is an illiterate woman who came to us at SEEMA after experiencing serious violence. Now she has sat for and received her primary certificate even though she is in her forties and a grandmother. She also started a small shop with our support and is now an advocate for change and ending violence against women.

What made her story a success is her personal potential. We need women to find out and fulfill their potential, abilities and interests and to think positively about their future.”

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