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Prioritising the Voices of Women for Peacebuilding in Sudan

Involving women in every peace talk and negotiation could prove a valuable difference in ending the conflicts.

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Since April 2023, two armed rival factions, the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, have been fighting for control of Sudan and the country’s resources. The conflict has claimed over 13,000 lives and injured about 26,000, as of January 2024. 

According to the United Nations (UN), this conflict has displaced about nine million within the country. Apart from internal displacement, there is economic instability and a collapse of essential services, which affects women and girls disproportionately.

Reports of gender-based violence are on the rise, with many instances of sexual assault, forced marriages, and other forms of abuse against women and girls in captivity. The African Union (AU) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) must intervene and initiate peace talks in Sudan as quickly as possible, despite Sudan being suspended from the AU following a military coup in 2021. 

Other pan-African organisations, like the Pan-African Council, must support peace efforts to ensure the restoration of democratic values of liberty, justice, and equality in Sudan to curtail the loss of lives and the sexual exploitation of women and girls.

In January 2024, the AU established the African Union high-level panel on Sudan to discuss steps for implementing the AU strategy towards peace and security in Sudan. The panel, chaired by Moussa Faki Mahamat, the former Chadian prime minister, and convened by the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Peace and Security, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, began its work on January 31, 2024. 

READ MORE: Tanzania Commended for Helping Africans Out of Sudan

The meeting was a positive but delayed step because calls for a cease-fire and discussions for peace could have started earlier to prevent the loss of life and abuse faced by women and girls.

Regardless, the AU, COMESA, and other stakeholders must continue peace talks to curtail further loss of lives and displacement. All efforts must bring the warring factions to the peace table and explore the potential for power sharing. 

Suspicion of picking sides at this point in the conflict will, in the long run, undermine the nation’s unity and the AU and COMESA’s credibility to intervene in the conflict. An example of the consequences of suspicion is the recent suspension of ties by the Sudanese government with the eastern African regional bloc—the Intergovernmental Authority of Development.

Violence against women

There is also a need for civil society organisations to document and monitor the violence against women in the course of the ongoing conflict. Sustainable peace involves accountability and justice for victims who have endured sexual exploitations of any kind. 

According to a UN Women report, more than 49 women-led peace initiatives, humanitarian initiatives, and civil society organisations have formed a network called the Peace for Sudan Platform. This platform unites representatives from diverse regions, fostering communication for collective women-led advocacy at the grassroots. 

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On-the-ground assessments and reports of these organisations would serve as evidence to hold both military and paramilitary perpetrators accountable.

The AU handbook states that enhancing women’s inclusion in peacemaking is best made comprehensively through ‘the promotion of women in conflict resolution, from a leadership to grassroots level.’ 

However, the first AU High-Level Panel on Sudan meeting did not involve some important women-led organisations and stakeholders. Transitioning from war to peace represents a critical moment in the shifting terrain of gender power. Thus, it is essential to have women at the negotiation table. Grassroots women groups offer valuable insights into potential areas of compromise for peace negotiators.

Women’s involvement

Sudan’s de facto leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, ties his acceptance of the African Union’s proposed conflict solutions to Sudan’s full membership reinstatement in the continental bloc. This situation allows the AU to engage women-led organisations and utilise Sudan’s aspiration for membership to foster inclusive and enduring peace. 

Women’s pivotal role in ending Liberia’s civil war is an example of how important the inclusion of women is to peacebuilding. In Sudan, involving women in every peace talk and negotiation could prove a valuable difference in ending the conflicts.

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Prioritising the education of girls and women is another critical way of disrupting the narratives that justify war. Educating girls makes it easier to counter odd narratives, such as inevitable wars, and the only way to institute change. 

Women can educate their children, especially sons, about the realities of war. Education demystifies war propaganda and dispels myths that justify conflict, preventing sons from being lured into warring factions. It can also expose evil leaders’ motivations and tactics and promote the understanding that war is not innate or inevitable.

In essence, the conflict in Sudan demands immediate and robust actions, which require significant contributions from the regional blocs. Involving women through insights from grassroots women’s groups and education for girls and women can lead to sustainable peacebuilding and ending the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Gideon Adjei-Mawutor is a writing fellow at African Liberty, a U.S.-based think-tank focused on advancing individual freedom, peace, and prosperity in Africa. He’s available at or on X as @Giddijei. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chanzo. If you are interested in publishing in this space, please contact our editors at

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