Combating Violence Against Women in South Sudan

December 16, 2014
12:00 pm - 02:00 pm

About the Event


  • Zainab Bangura, Special Representative of the United Nations and Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict
  • Ambassador Susan Page, Former Ambassador to South Sudan
  • Ambassador Princeton Lyman , Former Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan
  • Natalina Malwal, Civil Society and Women’s Rights Activist

Moderated by:

  • Dave Peterson, Senior Director for Africa, National Endowment for Democracy

Since the outbreak of violence in South Sudan last December, ethnic fighting has engulfed the country, leading to the deaths of at least 10,000 civilians, the displacement of two million more, and massive scales of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). The fighting, which started in Juba but quickly swept through the entire north of the country, forced families to flee their homes and head for UN military bases to seek safety. Many women were attacked and raped while fleeing; yet even within the UN military bases, women are still not safe. Recent reports have shown that violence against women remains a massive problem in South Sudan’s internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.

Political negotiations between the armed factions of President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar have largely ignored the issue of violence against women. Civil society groups have complained that women are not adequately represented at the negotiations taking place in Addis Ababa. As victims of the ethnic conflict and as peacebuilders within their communities, women have a role to play in resolving South Sudan’s current crisis.

Event panelists will discuss the ongoing problem of SGBV in South Sudan, and explore how to incorporate the voice of women in the political peace process and combat this greater trend of conflict-related violence against women. The panelists will also draw comparisons to sexual violence in neighboring countries, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and Sudan.

About the Speakers

Zainab Bangura is the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Prior to this, Ms. Bangura served in the government of Sierra Leone as Minister of Health and Sanitation, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Chief Adviser and Spokesperson of the President on bilateral and international issues. As a democracy activist, Ms. Bangura has served as Executive Director of the National Accountability Groups, Chair and Co-founder of the Movement for Progress Party of Sierra Leone, and Coordinator and Co-founder of the Campaign for Good Governance.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Page is a Senior Advisor in the Office of the U.S. Special Envoy For Sudan and South Sudan. She previously served as Ambassador to South Sudan from 2011 to 2014 and Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the U.S. State Department. In addition to her work at the State Department, Ambassador Page was Regional Director for Southern and East Africa at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI); the legal advisor to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Secretariat for Peace in Sudan sponsored by the State Department; and Director of the Rule of Law and Prison Advisory Unit at the UN Mission to Sudan (UNMIS).

U.S. Ambassador Princeton Lyman is a Senior Advisor to the President of the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). He served previously as the Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan from March 2011 to March 2013. Throughout his long career in government, Ambassador Lyman was also Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1981-1986), U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria (1986-1989), Director of Refugee Programs (1989-1992), U.S. Ambassador to South Africa (1992-1995), and Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (1996-1998).

Natalina Malwal is a prominent South Sudanese civil society activist. She brings along more than 15 years of management experience in community development, refugee resettlement, and NGO leadership. She co-founded the South Sudanese Women’s Organization in the United Kingdom. She also founded the U.S. South Sudan Chamber of Commerce and serves on the board of the South Sudanese Community Association of Maryland, Virginia, and the DC metropolitan areas.