As a young woman who witnessed violence in her home country, Keji Viola Geroge started her advocacy in 2017 to help women and girls find safety.
“After the 2016 armed clashes in Juba, South Sudan, I was selected by the community as the chairperson in one of the internally displaced persons (IDP) sites. I received several concerns from women and girls about their safety and needs. I started referring them to service providers like the NGOs and governmental office.”
Keji participated in YW4A’s training and activities to acquire advocacy knowledge that would help her promote gender equality. She explained that she now has the skills to organize events to coordinate dialogue with the concerned authorities around women and young women’s role in decision-making. She said her role as an activist is to raise awareness about young women’s roles in advancing their participation in the local and national peacebuilding processes.
Keji explained the significance of including young women to shape the conversation during the peace process.
“Women and young women who formally participated in the 2015 peace negotiations were only 15%. However, the percentage increased to 33% in 2018. Civil society organisations’ advocacy paid off, and more women could present the voices of conflict-affected persons regarding issues of governance, security, economic recovery, and social cohesion.”
Using the skills she acquired from participating in the YW4A activities, Keji wants to challenge the limitations that hinder the advancement of women’s rights.
“The civic spaces are restricted to women due to the lack of political will. Cultural norms shaped under patriarchy also prevent women’s participation; in addition, the local structures that are formed and influenced by tribal interests offer minimal space for women.”
Keji said the YW4A had offered her advocacy, communication, networking, and coalition-building knowledge. She says she gained a better understanding of her rights and how to be involved in the national constitution-making process through the programme mentorship initiative.
Since 2021, Keji has been actively participating in the YW4A Initiative. She took part in the joint convening on lesson sharing for the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), Gender Justice, and Power of Women. She also underwent capacity building in the use of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (World YWCA) Feminist Consultation Methodology and the RiseUp! Leadership training. as part of the commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism in Juba, Keji participated in the Networking, Partnership, and Coalition Building workshop in Juba.
The YW4A programme facilitates leadership capacity building of young women, to actively engage in and influence conversations and decision-making in public, private, and civic spaces on issues that affect them. The programme works with young women in Egypt, Kenya, Palestine and South Sudan through a consortium of organisations – the YWCAs of Palestine, Kenya and South Sudan, Ibrahimia Media Centre Egypt, Equality Now, Faith to Action Network, Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and the Consortium Lead, World Young Women’s Christian Association (World YWCA).