Women’s Empowerment Prevails in Sudan

Written by: Mollie Crook

A woman wearing all white and gold earrings is chanting on top of a car in a sea of people who, phones in hand, video her as she emphatically chants to the crowd. They respond back with a resounding, “Revolution!”  This was the scene outside of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and it represented the perseverance of the Sudanese even after years of oppression. Young women made up approximately two-thirds of the protesters in Khartoum. The Sudanese people began to refer to female protestors as Kandaka, which is the title given to the Nubian queens of ancient Sudan whose gift to their descendents was a legacy of empowered women who fight hard for their country and their rights. This woman, and others like her, provided hope and inspiration for Sudanese women.

Throughout Sudan’s history, women have played a role as brave fighters and active protestors as well as representing virtues and morals of the people. They have also played significant social and political roles. Under President al-Bashir’s regime, however, women have been severely oppressed. The government committed human rights violations targeting women and their children, who were “subjected to sexual violence by government forces and government-supported militias.” Women were especially targeted when they protested and yet continued to fight for justice, emboldened in their defiance to the government. A woman commented on the torture and oppressive nature of Bashir saying, “We know why we have taken to the streets. No bad thing that happens to us can make us back down on what we are doing.” 

Four long months of protest and dozens of deaths later, al-Bashir was ousted by the military. Ironically, he was removed in the same manner that he came to power. During his regime, al-Bashir hosted Osama bin Lada and allegedly was linked to Al Qaeda. He also sent military into Yemen without a clear purpose and constantly sought out conflict. The Sudanese came to a breaking point when the price of bread rose in addition to the women’s movement that demanded change. Although Bashir committed atrocities against all people in Sudan, the women became the face of the movement to overthrow the government because of their bravery and preserving spirit. However, the scene in Sudan is not solved.  Defense Minister of Sudan, Awad Ibn Auf declared a two-year transitional government headed by the military. The constitution is suspended, there will be a three month state of emergency and a curfew will be implemented. 

The protested initial euphoria after the overthrow of Bashir has been stamped out by the government falling short of the people’s demands for a civilian government. Once again, the strong women of the country will be called on to continue to fight for what they deserve.