Mr. Moses Monday John the executive director of Organisation of Nonviolence and Development (ONAD) shares his journey with the co-founders of Eve Organization during its establishment in Khartoum, Sudan. Moses, who is also nicked named ‘he for she’ was speaking to participants of the Young Women Alumni Conference which brought together the Incubator alumni and a number of other young leaders in April 2020.
We have noted that you are a strong supporter of Eve Organization. What’s the connection?
“I am one of the few men who midwifed Eve Organization. I saw a potential in these young women graduates who were passionate about women leadership and want to contribute to women’s empowerment in South Sudan. It all started by sharing ideas and working together. We met under trees, moving from one shade to another as we developed the charter of the Organization and later got it registered. We had dreams and we never doubted our potentials. We ate roasted groundnuts and dates (Ballah in Arabic) as well as drunk tap water during our inception meetings. Today Eve is hosting conferences of women leaders in big hotels with government officials and partners and become an important stakeholder in addressing the challenges that the country is facing. I am excited about the tremendous progress made by Eve organization.
What motivated you to support the young women?
We had a dream to accomplish with the young ladies – a dream of a peaceful South Sudan – a better home for women and girls. The then young co-founders were passionate and determined. That positive energy motivated me and that’s why we managed to interact with even their mothers right in their kitchens and talked with them about the need to invest in nurturing the vision of the young graduates. ONAD as an organization trained the co-founders on the principles and methods of nonviolence and later some of them became trainers and activists. We provided the space they needed. It was and is still important to motivate more young South Sudanese women to practice gender sensitive nonviolent action to resist and transform gender based violence and build peace in South Sudan. We are proud of the achievements and we believe Eve Organization will continue to develop and achieve the vision it was created for.
Do you see yourself as a women’s right activist?
People refer to me as “he for she” for a reason. I believe in gender equality and I’m an ardent advocate for women and girls rights. I engage other men to join the cause too. It is important that men contribute in addressing challenges such as the cultural and structural discriminations including negative masculinities that have detrimental impact on women and girls in our society. The issues of gender-based violence and the unequal power balance including participation of women in both public and political spaces needs to be supported by men. As men we need to see women as equal partners. I have a wife, sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts and friends who are so dear to me, just like the Eve co-founders, I would like to see them doing better in the society and using their skills effectively. I don’t see myself competing with women for anything. We rather complement each other in our struggle for building a nonviolent, peaceful and democratic country. That’s why you see me protesting with the women and using my voice to support them. South Sudan particularly the men need to contribute to creating a peaceful, secure and equal society for all. Any society that does not value their women and girls cannot achieve a sustainable development.
What do you think are some of the challenges that need to be addressed to allow for a level playing ground for all?
There are inevitable challenges along the way to success. We must acknowledge that South Sudan is a deeply patriarchal society and many hold on traditional believes. The women’s movement is just getting stronger although there is need for financial and technical support for it to develop into a formidable force that can challenge the many negatives such as the lack of policies enforcement to address forced and early marriages, education of women, better health facilities and improved livelihood especially in the rural areas. This therefore calls for more men to join hands and support women in this cause. It is time that men talk among themselves to address gender issues.
What message do you have for the young women of South Sudan?
For the young women leaders, it is important to do your best. There is no one single formula to overcome challenges. When challenges come and you are able to overcome them, it gives you more experience and courage. The only way we can develop resilience is to change challenges into opportunities. Let us be creative to find ways to overcome the challenges. I encourage all of you not to give up our valuable contribution in civic space for whatever reasons but to continue working and calling for more civic space in a non-violent way. We are here to stay, make history and leave legacy for the coming generation.