Karuna Center's 2011-2012 work in Sudan focused on issues of women's rights in the context of South Sudan's secession from the nation. After a 20-year separatist war against the Sudanese government and a popular referendum, South Sudan became an independent nation on July 9, 2011. The civil war killed more than 2.5 million people and displaced more than twice as many; serious challenges remained for people on both sides of this new international boundary.
Our role was to support a coalition of women leaders from North and South Sudan, who had been brought together by the Institute for Inclusive Security and been meeting since 2006. Through all the years of civil war in Sudan, these women offered support to each other and shared advocacy for women throughout what is now Sudan and South Sudan.
In April 2011, Karuna Center’s founder, Paula Green, was invited to facilitate a plan for the future of this Sudanese women’s coalition. In 2012, Karuna Center and Inclusive Security followed up with seminars for each side of the coalition separately, with a focus on increasing the capacity of each group of women leaders within their newly divided countries. We brought a peacebuilding lens to skill-building workshops ranging from strategic planning and coalition-building to dialogue skills, group facilitation techniques, managing conflict successfully, and reconciliation/forgiveness.
In December 2013, a power struggle emerged between the president of the new country of South Sudan and his top deputy. This has deteriorated into a tragic South Sudanese civil war that has ethnic groups pitted against each other and massive suffering of the population on all sides. The Sudan and South Sudan women's coalitions continue to meet together when their interests and needs overlap, but the challenges of armed conflict within each nation's borders have taken center stage. Nevertheless, coalition members remain committed to struggling together to establish peace, human rights, and dignity for women of all ethnic groups in both Sudanese countries.