Gender issues permeate all aspects of South Sudan’s development. This includes low female literacy, inadequate health services that have resulted in some of the world’s worst health indicators, scant representation of women in the economy, governance, and decision-making mechanisms, and harmful traditional practices, such as early marriage and customs that violate universal human rights. Mainstreaming protection and gender sensitivity informs all of USAID’s programs in South Sudan. In a context of extremely high levels of sexual and gender-based violence exacerbated by the civil war that began in 2013, USAID has scaled up activities to mitigate risks to women and children and provide care for survivors of violence.
USAID assistance in South Sudan’s health sector focuses on combating infectious diseases, improving maternal and child health, and expanding access to safe water and sanitation. To reduce maternal mortality in South Sudan, USAID has trained hundreds of home health promoters on the prevention of postpartum hemorrhage, the leading cause of maternal deaths.
In education, USAID has long supported equity and girls’ access to quality basic education in South Sudan as well as higher education opportunities for women, and currently supports Girls Education South Sudan, a United Kingdom-led project that Canada also supports.
In democracy and governance, USAID supports advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality, and supports women’s groups to promote peace and reconciliation throughout South Sudan, empowering women through inclusive and participatory processes, and supporting trauma awareness mechanisms that are helping survivors discuss the impacts of trauma and break cycles of violence.