In a speech at Ahfad University for Women in Omdurman, Sudan, on April 9, USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg announced a new USAID global grant program to increase the substantive involvement of women in peace processes. Grants of up to $2 million each, totaling up to $14 million, may be made available for projects that directly address the objectives of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for supporting the essential role of women in all aspects of peace and security, recognizing their leadership in peacemaking, and ending sexual violence in conflict.
The goal of this new program is to bridge the gap between women as peacebuilders at the grassroots level and women as peacemakers at the negotiating table, by providing funding for female negotiators and mediators to fully participate, taking into account their unique needs as women, such as the provision of child care, transportation, accommodations, and security.
"We all know that when social order breaks down, it is women who suffer the most," said Steinberg, who visited the university during a three-day visit to northern and southern Sudan, where he also met with a variety of government and international officials and civil society leaders. "But women are far more than victims-they are also the key to building just and lasting peace, stable and prosperous economies, and vibrant civil society."
Steinberg noted that USAID "highlights the importance of empowering women to be catalysts for positive change in their communities" by ensuring that gender considerations are fully integrated into its programs; by protecting women affected by conflict and displacement, and ensuring their participation in preventing and ending violence; and by empowering women to play their full and rightful role in the economic, political, and social life of their country.
Steinberg added that "women have an important role to play in building society" in Sudan, where "USAID is committed to support women's political caucuses; micro-enterprise as well as women's engagement in small, medium and large enterprises; women's associations; girls' education and maternal-child health care." He added, "We are pledged to take our cues from the women of Sudan themselves."
In the presence of the university's faculty and local and regional Arab media, Steinberg affirmed USAID's commitment to continue providing assistance to northern Sudan after the south secedes July 9, following the referendum on southern self-determination held in January. "The United States, including USAID, has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Sudanese people through some of your most difficult times, providing lifesaving assistance to families displaced by conflict in Darfur and before that in southern Sudan, and helping Sudanese affected by floods, drought, and poverty," he said.
Steinberg highlighted USAID's interest in transitioning humanitarian assistance to early recovery and development in Sudan, where conditions allow, and the desire to have Sudanese civil society as a partner in future programs.