We are here today in celebration of International Women’s Day. We want to honor women all over the world, but especially those in the United States and Sudan, and at our own U.S. Embassy.
I would like to pay a special recognition to our embassy’s female guard force, and the women who occupy senior leadership positions, such as the Deputy Chief of Mission Ellen Thorburn, USAID Director Marcia Musisi-Nkambwe, Management Counsellor Veronica Hons-Oliver, Financial Management Officer Zulal Vincent, Assistant Army Attaché Captain Darlene Moyer and our former Regional Security Officer Corynn Stratton. I hope their visibility will inspire other women to pursue leadership roles inside the embassy and across society.
The U.S. government supports the full inclusion of women in Sudan’s economy, conflict mitigation, and peace building activities. We believe that empowering Sudanese women economically is vital to their participation in comprehensive and democratic dialogue and ultimately change. Additionally, women’s empowerment is a solid line of defense against violence and extremism, and is essential for addressing the root causes of conflict.
In the United States, we recognize the importance of supporting women’s efforts to promote peace, create a culture of human rights, contribute to economic development, and build democracy. We believe that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are an important pillar in the current phase of our engagement with the Sudanese government and the people of Sudan.
We are encouraged to see women in Sudan participating in all aspects of life—as professional teachers, doctors, nurses, farmers, and tea sellers in both urban settings and rural areas, and IDP camps. And we look forward to greater participation of women in peace talks, technical committees, or in positions of power within the government.
We are concerned about the large number of women that were arrested recently for exercising their inalienable rights. These are women whose presence in society and determination to fight for human rights and equality can support positive change in Sudan.
These courageous women in Sudan continue to challenge discriminatory social norms and laws that violate the rights of women. We are happy that the Embassy has been able to contribute indirectly towards their efforts by organizing opportunities for cultural and educational exchange, and advocating on their behalf publically and in our private engagement with the government of Sudan.
We are pleased by recent public announcements by Sudanese government leaders that they are working to review and amend some of the national laws that contradict the constitution and threaten women’s rights, such as the Khartoum State Public Order Act and some articles in the Criminal Act. We urge the government to make good on these promises for the sake of all Sudanese women.
We will continue to engage women from all sectors of society, as well as members of civil society, religious leaders, political party leaders, and government officials, on these issues and how the United States can support Sudanese women as they work towards positive change in their communities and nation.
Happy International Women’s Day.