Transitional justice often fails to adequately deal with the multi-dimensional issue of gender justice. This is partly to do with the way women are treated during conflict situations, but also with women’s roles in societies in general. Even in countries at peace, and where women’s rights are largely respected, gender inequality remains prevalent; women are under-represented in both politics and business, and always do not have total control over their incomes. SSWEN is part of the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) – a platform to support the implementation of Chapter V of the Peace Agreement and to provide an interface between national and international transitional justice stakeholders and the official transitional justice processes. The TJWG also aims to engender consensus and conceptual clarity around the meaning, content, and mechanisms for transitional justice, as well as their sequencing.
The Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) which was established in 2015 to coordinate and facilitate a coalition of civil society organizations, transitional justice experts and representatives of women’s groups and faith-based organizations with the common goal of collaborating to ensure public participation and a strengthened civil society voice in the process of transitional justice in South Sudan.
As South Sudan slide deeper into conflict, this imbalance becomes even worse. Often, any previous political gains made by women such as the affirmative Action provided for in the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (2011) – are also lost as the society is repatriarchalized through violence. This problem is particularly prevalent in the all-too-common nationalistic and ethnic conflicts, which are often based on supposed “natural” hierarchies of human nature. Such ideologies tend to view women not only as “the weaker sex”, but also the biological producers of ethnic and national heritage. Consequently, women often face the threat of gender-based violence, not only because they are women, but because they are members of a particular ethnic group.
In such a context, gender-based violence can come to be seen as an effective weapon. Sexually assaulting the women of an ethnic group both humiliates opponents and threatens their ethnic and racial “purity”. Given the level of violence women face in South Sudan, a successful transitional justice process needs to pay special attention to the gender dimensions of the conflict. However, there are a number of reasons why such attention is often not given, and why problems based on gender are often marginalized during the transitional justice process.