November 23, 2023
In recognition of your stature as women leaders and climate defenders* seeking to inspire generations to come, we are writing this letter to you to request your solidarity with the women of conflict-ridden Sudan who are bearing the heaviest brunt of the war, including kidnapping, enforced disappearance and subjugation to sexual violence and rape.
Publicly expressing your support for the women and girls in Sudan would send a strong message that this unfathomable violence is not justifiable, nor should be tolerated.
In Sudan, as in other conflict situations around the world, the fight for peace, gender equality and climate justice are inextricably linked.
The distressing impacts of war, gender inequality and climate change are very visible in Sudan, which is currently grappling with the devastating effects of displacement, despair and the use of rape as a war tactic, following the outbreak of armed conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) last April. But alleviating the suffering of Sudanese women can begin when powerful and influential women leaders like you are heard at the highest national and international levels, and during global moments, such as the 28th United Nations Climate Change conference.
Deciding to make a difference by publicly voicing the truest of human emotions–the rejection and condemnation of all forms of violence, and the solidarity with victims of sexual assault, often perpetrated by emboldened armed men in a context of impunity– would be a powerful use of your platform ahead of and during COP28.
As thirty United Nations experts said not long ago, “It is alleged that men identified as members of the RSF [Rapid Support Forces] are using rape and sexual violence of women and girls as tools to punish and terrorise communities. Some of the reported rapes appear to be ethnically and racially motivated […] Despite the RSF’s declared zero-tolerance policy for sexual and gender-based violence, the commission of these alleged crimes, among others, have repeatedly been attributed to the RSF.”
As the Sudan conflict enters its eighth month, atrocities reminiscent of genocidal crimes committed in Darfur twenty years ago and the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war continue to be widespread. More than 4 million women and girls are now at risk of sexual violence in Sudan. The already dire humanitarian situation is deteriorating, while Sudan is falling further down the news agenda. Nearly 25 million people are in need of humanitarian aid; 13.6 million of which are children. Moreover, according to the World Health Organization, over 40% of Sudan’s entire population have fallen into high levels of acute food insecurity between July and September 2023. Today, the conflict rages on with no end in sight, killing over 10,000 people and forcing nearly 6 million people out of their homes, 4.63 million internally and 1.17 million externally; 2.6 million of whom are children, which is the largest child displacement in the world.
In June 2023, 52 feminist and women’s rights groups brought this appalling reality to the attention of Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations, in a letter calling on her to publicly denounce the role of the parties to the conflict in perpetrating gross violations of human rights.
We, the undersigned, are now calling on you to support our Sudanese sisters by: 1) dedicating time to hear their stories and perspectives in a virtual meeting with a delegation of feminist leaders, women’s rights groups and experts who can explain how women and girls are affected by all aspects of the war – including sexual violence and climate change; 2) using your social media platforms (#SpeakOutOnSudan) ahead of and during COP28 to publicly denounce the use of rape as a weapon of war in Sudan, demanding the immediate cessation of hostilities and urgent action to end impunity as a foundation stone for a peaceful and sustainable future; 3) highlighting the connections between the climate crisis and the social, economic, racial and political realities that women and girls endure, particularly in Sudan, during high-level panels and meetings in COP28 and beyond; and 4) conveying our concerns to the highest levels and rallying fellow Emirati leaders and activists to intensify their support for Sudanese women and girls during this very critical period.
The women and girls of Sudan have waited too long for justice and deserve nothing less.
*This letter has been sent to: H.E Razan Al Mubarak H.H Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, H.E Shamma Al Mazrui, H.E Mariam Almheiri, Dr. Nawal Al Hosany, Hana Al Hashimi, and Dubai Abulhoul.
- No to the Oppression of Women, Sudan
- “Nora” Organization for Combating Violence against Women and Girls, Sudan
- Wa3y Organization, Sudan
- Sudanese Women in Science Organization, Sudan
- Gender Equality Network – South Kordofan State
- Gender Equality Network – North Kordofan State
- Gender Equality Network Initiative – Kassala State
- Gender Equality Network – Sinnar State
- Gender Equality Organization – Gezira State
- Gender Equality Network – North Darfur State
- Kholood Khair, Director, Confluence Advisory, Sudan
- Gamila Elbashir, Sudanese Community Leader
- Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa
- Women’s International Peace Centre
- African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)
- Kibo’s Women Initiative (KIWI)
- Kisumu Feminists Society, Kenya
- Grace Agenda, Kenya
- Baobab for Women’s Human Rights, Nigeria
- Observatório das Mulheres de Moçambique, Mozambique
- Girls and Women Empowerment Network, Zimbabwe
- Initiative des Jeunes Filles en Action, Democratic Republic of Congo
- Mouvement INAMAHORO, Femmes et Filles pour la Paix et la Sécurité, Burundi
- Women Development and Youth Education Center, Liberia
- Dr Maggie Kigozi, Uganda
- Gloria Luna Rivillas, Colombia
- Chocó Territorial Guarantees Table for Human Rights Defenders, Colombia
- Departmental Network of Chocoana Women, Colombia
- Io International
- Mama Cash
For any inquiries, please contact
Dr Helen Kezie-Nwoha
Women’s International Peace Centre