Sudan is not a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW”).
Women in Sudan face a number of obstacles on a daily basis, primarily as a result of the 21-year civil war. Many women have been killed or displaced from their homes, and the war has resulted in severe poverty for millions of citizens. The women placed in refugee camps often have little economic opportunity and have no choice but to resort to prostitution or the illegal brewing of alcohol to financially support their families. In turn, many of these women end up in prison for their transgressions. Although the civil war has afforded women the opportunity to serve as the breadwinners of their families and seek employment, the obstacles they face can prove devastating. The civil war has also had a negative effect on education with only 42% of girls enrolled in primary education. Adult female literacy hovers around 51%.
In terms of the public sphere, women have made some advances in recent years with Sudanese women achieving senior positions in a number of fields. On April 17, 2009, the Sudan Tribune reported that the interim constitution provides legal participation of women at a 25 percent level, but they will also be permitted to contest for seats beyond that quota when elections are held in 2010. The government has appointed female ambassadors as well as an advisor on women’s affairs to a cabinet position.
Women’s groups in both northern and southern Sudan have worked to improve Sudanese women’s status as well as push for an end to the civil war. The Sudanese Women’s General Union employs social programs and the Democratic Women’s Alliance is one of the primary women’s opposition groups in the North.
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