Prof Soaad: When we started the movement people weren’t as literate, hence we were confronted with norms and traditions.
(The term confrontation speaks more to the approach tactic than to the rigidity of tradition!)
Prof Soaad: Issues get easily caught up in the middle of political tension, i.e., they become easily polarized.
(Given the fact that the Sudanese periphery is dominated by a culture of “obedience”, which puts greater emphasis on duties than rights, a mishandling -- that is to say use of rhetoric -- may be perceived as a challenge to the authority of the patriarchal authority which, ironically, sometimes can be a lady! The oppressed oftentimes can become an oppressor without noticing. For example, who violates the privacy of the bride? It is her mother-in-law. Who brutally removes the gentiles of her daughter? The mother. Who pokes the narcissism of the turban wearing Imam to demand religious authority from his uncle? It is the wife. Man was brilliant in the sense that he had given women thousand years ago the authority to demean themselves and “others.”
Anytime a woman issue becomes ideologized, take for example the mudawana (Moroccan family laws), it looses its objectivity and becomes a charter for the abuse of not only women but the whole society. It is true that Sudan has advanced beyond the secular/theocratic dichotomy to a liberalist/literalist ideology, but it is yet to be seen if it can advance long enough to reach a rights/duties platform. As this remains its challenge to healing its wounds long aggravated with the south and embracing humanism, gradually progressing to become a global ideal. It is true that Sudan didn’t experience high ideological tension compared to Morocco and other countries that adopted the Francophone model of governance, nonetheless given its cultural heterogeneity it teased out ethnic/religious tensions that have put the country at the brink of complete integration.)
Prof Soaad: Assumingly, but the state spares no effort in co-opting civic society organizations (CSO) and in the process they become politicized, either they become pro or against the state. Hence, they loose their role in mediating between the society and the state.
(Once a group becomes labeled, it looses its efficaciousness in promoting civicness and in encouraging one’s acceptance of the other. Hence, deliberation (still is) becomes an impossibility)
Prof Soaad: Yes there is a difference. Unlike the current regime, Nimeiri didn’t attempt to monopolize the civic society. He (although aligned with the Communists) initiated the Sudanese Women Union to organize ladies but not to ideologize them. We need a national organization that includes all women and helps advance their agenda and not any political agenda.
(It seems that people are having difficulty -- at least psychologically -- to expanding the realm of politics beyond that was traditionally dominated by the state. The ideals of the colonial and post-colonial model of development have permeated deep enough into the socio-cultural roots that people limited their understanding of politics to “hard” politics: confrontation with the authority. This will unfortunately prevail until the state sees the civic society as a sophisticated mechanism that can help draw different opinions within a reasonable range manageable to the executive authority. If ten people have ten different views about an issue, the formulation of a policy becomes impossibility. Almond and Verba spoke in the sixties about the lack of balance between emotionalism and institutionalism in (under)developed societies. An attempt to artificially create consensus inhibits creativity at best and breeds monotony at worst, i.e., it infuses apathy as a major disease that the Sudanese civic society is currently suffering from.)
Prof Soaad: It creates bureaucratic hurdles that make our traveling abroad very difficult, if not impossible. For example, our organization has tried once to apply for tax exemptions and it found that the procedure is tedious and artificially laborious. It quit applying for any investments that it could have utilized to make the organization more effective, if not economically independent.
(These organizations don’t have enough personnel to consistently and systematically pursue their agenda. This not to dismiss the government’s skewed agenda and its skeptical view of the role of “non-Islamist” civic society organizations in the public arena. Such attitude affirms Abdallah Annaim’s view of the “Islamic State” as a post-colonial invention because it contradicts the historical precedence and conventional wisdom of Muslim societies which followed a bottom-up approach as a developmental strategy.)
Prof Soaad: We need all of that. We need to educate our members, enhance their capacity (as a mean to providing them with self-confidence and boosting their morale), more importantly increase deliberation within and between civic society organizations.
Prof Soaad: SOLO, Babikr Badri Scientific Organization for Women Studies, Woman Union (contact Raga Hassan Kalifa).
Dr. Amna: More recently, women have been extensively engaged in all spheres of the peace talks: lobbying, logrolling, preparing reports, etc. Nonetheless, they weren’t given as much as they anticipated.
Dr. Amna: No they haven’t.
(Women are probably more concerned with policy formulating that crown holding/wearing.)
Dr. Amna: Babikr Badri Organization, Gender and Development Organization for Women (Dr. Balgees Badri), Peace and Development Centre, Woman Centre for Peace and Development (SWEPT), Federal Circle, etc. Not to forget the organizations headed by the President’s two wives.