Gender Analysis in Sudan: Exploring Gender Dimensions of Humanitarian Action and Women’s Voice and Leadership in East Darfur, Gadarif, Kassala, South Darfur, and South Kordofan
Publication Date: 30/04/2023
CARE Sudan is working to ensure that gender dynamics in Sudan are well understood, and that gender is fully integrated into all programmes and operations. This gender analysis covers each of the sectors to which CARE Sudan responds, highlighting key similarities and differences within the five operational states in which CARE Sudan operates. In all sectors, the analysis assesses differences in barriers and opportunities for different populations, especially women and girls.
Livelihoods. Unlike most of the other sectors of focus in this analysis, livelihoods present the most diverse experiences of women across states, localities, and villages. Generally, however, women the Darfur states experience similar challenges and opportunities, whereas the women in the other three states each have different types of experiences based on the context and norms in these regions. Core challenges experienced by women include the lack of available job opportunities, women’s responsibility over the household which doubles their burdens, lack of ownership and
control over productive assets, and exposure to gender-based violence. These issues are driven by some harmful and unequal official and customary laws, paternalistic gender norms, insecurity and conflict, illiteracy and poor education, and limited education.
Governance and Peacebuilding. Governance systems have been in turmoil since the 2019 Revolution. Despite this period of well-documented crisis at the national level, few issues were described by study respondents at the local level. This indicates a severe separation between national and local issues on the ground. However, women are consistently excluded in all governance and peacebuilding spaces across all states. The most common issues raised included hierarchical traditional mechanisms and powerholders, domination of men over decision-making, deliberate exclusionary practices, and the artificial fulfilment of women’s quota. These issues persist due to women’s illiteracy and poor education, social norms and traditional practices, harmful beliefs about women, low access to information for women, withdrawal of civil society, heavily centralized governance systems, and gaps in gender equality laws.
Gender-Based Violence. The types of GBV identified in Sudan include domestic / family violence (e.g., hard beating, psychological abuse), community social violence (e.g., exclusion, humiliation), harmful traditions and customs (e.g., early marriage, FGM/C), and violence during war (e.g., rape, killing). Women experience several challenges related to GBV – beyond the act of violence itself – such as stigmatization of reporting and the normalization of domestic violence. GBV is so prevalent due to unequal laws the enable it, patriarchal gender norms, economic hardship, insecurity and conflict, and the absence of law enforcement. It is driven internally by the family by the deep need
to protect family honor.
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH). Issues around water are well-understood and agreed upon by community members, with little differences in opinions be gender. The core issues relate to water include unreliable water accessibility, unequal responsibilities for water fetching and management that fall almost exclusively to women and girls and cause harmful health impacts, and the contamination of water sources. Similarly, related to sanitation, there is inadequate availability of latrines and poor cleanliness and waste accumulation in available latrines. Women specifically face the core hygiene issue of unavailability of dignity kits and no soap for washing. Such issues are primarily caused by poor governance and insufficient budgets alongside decentralized and male dominated water decision-making that does not account for women’s needs and discriminatory social norms and practices.
Health. The main health challenges identified in the states related to pregnancy and reproductive health, with little attention given to infectious or chronic diseases. Core to all health issues is the deficit of available and/or adequate reproductive and general health care centres. Health care may be the only sector in which men and women feel there is more equitable treatment between the genders; in fact, pregnant women tend to get preferential treatment in health centers when they are seen. However, significant issues remain for women including a lack of trained (female) medical staff and unaffordable medications and services. Like other sectors, poor governance and insufficient budget are primary drivers of weak health systems despite the INGO community playing a major role in building and delivering care at health centers. A significant emerging issue in the sector is the increasing mental health needs for women, particularly refugees.
Food Security and Nutrition. Families in all states report insufficient food availability driven by the rapidly collapsing economic situation and price hikes due to inflation. Food scarcity challenges are compounded by the deterioration of the agricultural season as a result of climate change in as most families are constrained to eat just what they can grow or procure very easily and cheaply locally. Even when food is available, it is very limited in variety causing low nutritional intake.
Women experience malnutrition because social norms dictate that they eat last and least even though overcoming food shortages is primarily the burden of women.