GoGirls ICT talked to r0g’s summer intern, Lisa, about the organization. And here’s what they talked about:

Gender identity is an essential aspect of everyday life all across the world, impacting everything from what you can wear to what you are allowed to do in society. 

What does gender mean to those living in Juba, South Sudan? Are gender roles and biases getting in the way of progress? We spoke with Yine Yenki, co-founder and Mentorship Director at GoGirls ICT in South Sudan, about gender and the work of the female-led #ASKnet hub.

The Cultural Mindset

A huge challenge that women in South Sudan face is the cultural mindset that they live within. Women grow up seeing other women fulfill roles in the house such as mother, wife, cook, and caretaker; they want to emulate this as well. Yine says that ”growing up, I never loved playing with other kids. I was the shiest child of my parents, who only knew how to sit in the kitchen corner to observe mum make our meal every day and wash utensils. Being a girl, I guess the instinct to be a home-maker started at an earlier age; my dream was to become like my mum and make yummy delicacies for my family. My late dad keenly noticed this and everything changed. He wanted me to see the world in a different dimension and be ambitious. And here I am today.” 

As Yine puts it, “If I never left the kitchen, I would have ended up in the kitchen only.”

The way forward has always been education, which impacts every aspect of life. Yine shed light on this by explaining how women who have some form of formal education are also better equipped to take care of their families, contrary to the widespread idea that it would take them away from motherly duties. “Educated woman can make [better] decisions.” More education translates into women being able to choose the most nutrient-rich food to feed the family and being able to better identify if someone is sick and how to care for them. Education builds a general sense of understanding and confidence, along with a curiosity to build a personal knowledge base. In that way, even if women do not aspire to work outside of the home, education still benefits them and society as a whole. 

But of course, education is also a means to help further a career and achieve more financial independence, regardless of whether you are the woman who buys or sells commodities in the market or someone who wants to work in an office. Education helps, always. 

Parts 2 & 3 of the post will follow soon.