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I came to Sudan two and a half months ago as part of my Masters Program in Migration and Intercultural Relations. The later, being affiliated with Ahfad University for Women – yes, there is such a thing as a women’s university in Sudan, gave me the opportunity to pursue an internship in this fascinating country.  Hence, I found myself with the “Nuba Women for Education and Development Association (NuWEDA)” and in the middle of women’s peace and development work.

Taking into account the most recent events and the usual gloomy portrayal of this country in international media I have to say, I was utterly struck by the amount of strong, independent, and committed women I had the blessing to meet. Especially, regarding the struggle on three fronts they are facing every day, it is beyond me how these admirable women keep on going and do not lose hope.
Not only do they have to fight a deep-rooted patriarchal system which extends beyond religion to the traditions of most peoples in Sudan. They also have to manage the arbitrary ‘laws’ of a government and its stagnant ruling-elite which nervously strikes at everything it considers a threat. In addition to that, women activists have to face something which I like to call the arrogance of the development industry, in particular the bureaucracy of large international donors. Most development actors in the field are calling for grass-root involvement these days nevertheless, all proposals are expected to be submitted in perfect English. You can imagine the hardship, frustration and pressure people are put through as they are not allowed to express themselves in their own language. However, as irritating as this might be, it would be unfair to ignore that without any of the international support, women’s peace work in Sudan would be without the necessary support for sustainable change.

Being an intern at NuWEDA, I witnessed 25 young women depart on their journey to become ‘Peace Ambassadors’ and another group fiercely fighting against the odds of effectively implementing Resolution 1325. I have seen women working in the most insecure conditions, as tea-ladies and domestic workers or petty traders; getting together to unite for a little bit of economic security in these hard times of skyrocketed inflation. I have also seen mothers volunteering their only day of rest for basic health awareness concerning children under five in their communities.  

Taking all of the above and actually summarising my stay here, this entry is intended as an tribute to all the women in Sudan and everywhere in this world who everyday struggle for a better more peaceful future of their country, their people, and their children.  I know for me, who had the mere luck to be born into a secure and peaceful environment, the past two and a half months, in which I had the honor to be part of these efforts, were a truly humbling experience.

Florinda Brands