For the longest time, Sudanese women have been limited, belittled and underestimated not only by men but also women. However, since Sudan Uprising began, Sudanese women have gone above and beyond proving to everyone what they are capable of.
When the protests first broke out in Sudan, men and women took it to the streets to express their anger. However, a large portion of society was very displeased with the mere thought of women going out in the protests and refused to allow their sisters, daughters, and wives to go out. People had different opinions and reasons as to why they were against it.
Some said that women are obstacles that stand in their way during the protests as they, according to them, are not physically built for it. Some said it is inappropriate and against the nature of our Sudanese culture. Some said that it is religiously and morally incorrect for women to join and march side by side with men. And some even went as far as calling girls who go out in protests ill-mannered, harlots; ones who have no one to “tame them.”
Despite all the push-back, the women of my country were least bothered and continued to join in the protests and contribute to it in every way they can. According to many reports, the number of women in some of the demonstrations was more than that of men. Women were seen in the front lines leading chants, encouraging everyone with their Zagareed (a type of ululation used to express joy and considered a battle cry in the olden times), rushing to aid the wounded, documenting using their cell phones, carrying solutions in their bags to help neutralize the tear gas shot at the protesters, distributing flyers about the protests and more.
One of the most powerful protests were staged in Ahfad University for women. These young women protested for three consecutive days during which they were heavily showered with tear gas canisters which they, fearlessly, returned!
Female protesters did not only contribute physically and mentally but also with their compassion and softness. One of the most unforgettable scenes is that of a girl holding the hand of one of the protesters, who was injured and in a great deal of pain and reassuring him. Or the many stories of women were reassuring everyone around them whenever they were trapped inside a building or a house and surrounded and tried to help everyone remain calm.
Although the number of women joining the protests is increasing every day many were still unable to join in; but nothing could stop these women! Women who couldn’t make it to the streets made sure to contribute in every way they can. A group of women sat on the rooftop of one of the buildings near a protest site and waited for the protesters (running away from NISS vehicles) to pass by to throw them water bottles. Some made food and drinks and distributed it to the protesters, giving them out themselves or sending them with their children.
However, what these women face is another story. In recent audio published by BBCOS, one of the ladies who spoke about how female protesters are treated and targeted by security forces said, “Being a female participating in these protests makes you an immediate target for verbal and sexual harassment…”
They have been beaten, threatened with rape, had their bones broken, ran over by vehicles, exposed to cavity searches while detained, had their hair shaved to humiliate them and many have been arrested some for days and even month.
Some influential Sudanese women have been behind bars for over a month now, some of them include Amal Gabr Allah, Dr. Ihsan Fagiri, Dr. Adeeba Alsayed, Dr. Nahid Gabr Allah and that’s to name a few.
But even in the worst of scenarios, Sudanese women remained both resilient and strong. In the 17th of January 2019, large numbers of women were arrested and detained in Al-Shmaly detention hall but they refused to be weakened and decided to chant anti-regime songs and rhymes inside their cell blocks. Their powerful united voices could be heard outside the walls of the building within which they were detained. An iconic incident that was to later inspire the protest on the 10th of February towards Omdurman’s female prison.
There are many stories about very powerful women and their contribution to Sudan Uprising, however, it is important to talk about that of Yousra El-Bagir. A Sudanese, female reporter who amidst social media crackdown and in the absence of media coverage, helped fill the gap between Sudan and the outside world giving #SudanUprising an international voice that reached the rest of the world. El-Bagir was attacked by security forces and had her phone confiscated while trying to cover one of the protests. She was also told that a criminal case will be filed against her for allegedly instigating against the state’ a crime that can be punished by a life sentence in prison. She eventually had to leave the country overnight before a statement was issued preventing her from leaving the country.
Another contribution worth mentioning is the panel discussion on the Sudanese revolution in Georgetown University in Qatar which was organized by Lina Hajo and Saraa Elamin was a brilliant contribution to #SudanUprising which in my opinion is quite effective as it is both educational and calls for opening a dialogue that can bring about great ideas. A contribution I would love to see more of in other countries.
I could write more about how Sudanese women contributed to this revolution and this article may never end. However, I will stop here and say, when it comes to the subject of women’s rights, Sudan remains a few light years behind on the matter. Sudanese women aren’t in the streets, behind screens or in study halls speaking truth to power about this revolution to prove themselves, they’ve already done that, they’re doing it to fight for a place for themselves on the discussion table. They understand that they still have to fight for their place and their rights in Sudan. They’re doing it to gain more power to change the scene for Sudanese women. This revolution came to life because Sudanese people are tired of being deprived of their basic rights. For women, however, it’s not just a matter of human rights and constitutional rights, it’s also a fight for women’s rights. These women understand that no one will fight their battle for them, and that’s why they’re fighting this battle for Sudan, for the future and to ensure a better future of every woman and little girl.
It’s about time that the Sudanese woman is respected, credited for her work, her strength and her incredible contribution to this society
“The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, The Procreator, The Mother Of Tomorrow; A Woman Shapes The Destiny Of Civilization. Such Is The Tragic Irony Of Fate, That A Beautiful Creation Such As The Girl Child Is Today One Of The Gravest Concerns Facing Humanity.”
“When You Kill A Girl You Kill Many Others.”