A masculine revolution

By: Ounaysa Arabi

We all heard, perhaps even gallantly chanted hymns cherishing women’s outstanding participation in the revolution. Gracious stories like Alaa Salah’s iconic photograph, women instigating demonstrations by ululations ‘zaghareet’, and many more of what a regular Sudanese woman could/would do in her daily life; even before the December revolution. But did the revolution fulfill women’s demands?
It must be shocking to many that the “glorious” December revolution was purely masculine! That, admittedly, boils down to the fact that the Sudanese political marketplace is hegemonically masculine, where men dominate and navigate the entire political scene as major players. Even in a revolution like ours – led by the so called “avant-garde,” while the December revolution aimed at affecting political changes, not a radical social change. This has created a sort of duality of conflict for women: the ongoing fight with the patriarchal society, and at the same time, the fight for women’s participation in the political scene with those who are supposed to be allies.
Women agenda and women participation in governing the country are the commodity the prime minister Hamdok and a many other political figures tend to sell to the international community. This was reflected in many major events even before signing the constitutional charter of the transitional government. Taking the Juba Peace Agreement as an example, when a round table event organized by MANSAM, where Al-Burhan, Chairman of the SC, and Ibrahim Elshiekh, president of the SCP threw the most romantic and poetic speeches in celebration of women’s role, emphasizing that women should be spear-heading the peace-making process, but did this really happen a year after? No!

A Glass Ceiling

Ahlam Alnaser, a political activist, shares with Altaghyeer her views on the “governors’ disputes”, saying that according to the constitutional charter we cannot have less than 40% participation in the institutions of the transitional government. We spared no effort to make this happen during deliberations concerning formation of the government. We nominated candidates at all levels, two women made it to the Sovereign Council and few others to Cabinet.
She added that the political elite is masculine, citing that men have the audacity of deciding whether women were qualified or not.
“We filed a list of women state-governor nominees, then when the FFC tabled the list to the cabinet our nominees weren’t there!” Alnaser said. She went on saying: “I believe that if Hamdok really supports our cause as he claims in his speech flirts, then he is capable of imposing his standards and order political parties to nominate women candidates where the qualifications are the decisive factor, but unfortunately his actions prove otherwise.”
“Our nominations for women-governors failed, we were excluded and the FFC succeeded in putting their guys. We did not stop there, however. We are still giving proposals on how to govern the state because to participate in decision-making is our right and we are not giving up on that,” Alnaser said.

Dr. Samia Alnager, a prominent gender studies researcher, told Altaghyeer that the December revolution has to some extent granted women freedom and a space to be organized in the public spheres, however, these gains are only limited to the elite. She went on saying that she has been working with women from armed movements, confirming that the top three levels of hierarchy in those armed movements were exclusively men, that they have no hope of being represented in the upcoming cabinet reformation following the Juba Peace Agreement. She explained that this issue also appears in other organizations such as the neighbor-hood resistance committees, where men totally dominate and deliberately exclude women.
Alnager moved on to say that revolutions are meant for political change and as long as the sociocultural (patriarchy) structure has not changed, then women’s positions cannot change as well. She added that following the signing of the constitutional charter, women, albeit represented, yet are not participating. Obviously because our agenda as women is not represented, nor women in decision-making positions care much about women’s sensitive agenda – a global issue even in western democracies.

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