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Blue Nile State Situation Analysis March 2010

Blue Nile State Situation Analysis March 2010

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An in-depth UNDP situation analysis for Blue Nile State and an analysis framework to guide programming in the area.
March 2010
An in-depth UNDP situation analysis for Blue Nile State and an analysis framework to guide programming in the area.
March 2010

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Published by: Sudan North-South Border Initiative on Mar 10, 2011
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04/06/2013

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Women represent 47% of the state population, about 30-40 % of the total labour
force in the public and private sectors and 50-60 % of agricultural labour. Formally
there are two women’s institutions: the General Union for Sudanese Women and the
Women’s Labour Association. The percentage of women in the legislative council is
15-20% and two women represents the state at the National Assembly in Khartoum.

Women face two major constraints in Blue Nile. First, they often have difficulty
accessing agricultural lands and credit. Women have less access than men to
productive resources such as land, markets to sell products, finance and financial
institutions and inputs to improve productivity. Some women are now organized into
cooperatives to receive small grants from a savings bank. Second, the norms and
traditions that control rural life and the availability of basic services do not favour
women. Parental attitudes and socio-cultural practices also tend to militate against
girls’ participation in education. The 2004 study showed that in many communities
the traditional roles of women and girls in reproduction and nurturing of children
remains unchanged. This influences household decisions on who goes to school and

2

UNMAO operates in Rosaires, Qeissan, Baw and Kurmuk (no landmines were denounced in Damazin

and Attadamon).

26

for how long. Women are especially affected by the combined effects of war, early
marriage and traditional customs. (20.8 % according to SHHS 06) and traditional
customs (polygamy marriage which represents 29.3%). This is one of the reasons for
high maternal and under-five deaths in Sudan. The practice of early marriage often
leads to the end of a girls' formal education. Early withdrawal from school to domestic
and farm work is common. Due to chronic poverty and the disruption of the social
fabric due to conflict, there are some changes in some gender roles and
responsibilities. Women shoulder the burden of much of the farm labour, and
therefore have little time for domestic duties. This has led to high levels of illiteracy,
high rates of poverty among rural women, lack of access to primary health care and
some harmful practices (FGM rate is 58.2 % according to SHHS 20006).3

The
administration is willing to assist women and girls against negative traditional
practices, but has no capacity to enforce, and often the support does not answer to
the needs expressed by the women themselves.

According to a social study carried out by department of social welfare in 2006
divorced, widowed and separated women represent 34 % of all women in the state,
as shown below. This is a particular concern as female-headed households tend to
have fewer livelihood opportunities, and suffer disproportionately in times of
economic uncertainty and crisis.

Table 14: Marital status

Marital Status

Percentage

Single

23

Married

43

Divorced

13

Widow

14

Separate

7

Total

100
Source: interview with director of social welfare, MoSAG Blue Nile State 2009

Another report produced by the Child Protection Program Unit of the State Ministry of
Social Welfare in 2007 shows that the situation of rural Blue Nile women and girls is
strongly shaped by social norms which support widespread discrimination. Major
elements/determinants in this respect are:
• Women are generally regarded as subordinate to their male counterparts,
have less voice, less autonomy, fewer opportunities and lowered self-esteem,
from childhood to old age. Scarce resources are less likely to be directed to
their needs. The deprivations and suffering they face are not fully taken into
account, and the significant contribution they make to household is
undervalued;
• Although they are the principal caregivers to children, the quality of their
parenting is affected by their level of education and their ability to participate
in decision making;
• The household and social values related to the position of women in the
household or in society form a powerful part of children's learning and
development, tending to reinforce the norms for future generations. Women
are subjected to widespread discrimination. Some of the discrimination is
caused by deeply entrenched traditional norms but increasingly by changes to
household structures, and gender roles and responsibilities, resulting from

3

Information on critical issues comes from the focus group that CRMA ran with the participation of the
Umbrella for Women’s Development (health, education and HIV awareness), the Adviser to the Wali on
women’s issues, the Women’s League Liberation Movement, SPLM, Women’s Labor Union, Nomad
Union representatives.

27

chronic poverty;
• While women are among the hardest working in rural communities, and are
usually responsible to put food on the table, social taboos on women's
behavior and on the type of work they are able to carry out has restricted their
access to a decent livelihood preventing them from maintaining their assets;
• The structure of Blue Nile society has changed as a result of intergenerational
chronic poverty and the decades old conflict. In spite of that, the extended
family institution has not disintegrated although its nature is changing. The
elderly, especially elderly women, and the young, are increasingly playing a
critical role in caring for children orphaned after the death or the
“disappearance” of the children's father. Violence against women is one
social mechanism which perpetuates women's subordinate position in relation
to men. The extent of gender-based violence (GBV) is difficult to know as few
incidents are reported either because the women fear reprisals, are ashamed,
expect to endure violence at the hands of male family members, or feel that
there is no one of trust to report to. FGM/C, with a prevalence rate of 58.2%
among women aged 15-49 years (Sudan Household Health Survey, 2006),
represents a clear form of GBV manifestation.

A change in male-female relationships would address some of the vulnerabilities and
improve the chances of women and gils to better participate in recovery and
rehabilitation.

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