Sudan Ratifies Women’s Rights Convention – With Exceptions

Khartoum, Sudan — Sudan’s Ministers Council this week ratified the United Nations’ 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

However, the majority-male council declined to endorse the notion that women are equal with men at all political and social levels and have equal rights in marriage, divorce and parenting.

Women’s rights groups criticized those reservations, saying they will not accept them.

Ihsan Fagiri, the chief of the initiative No for Women’s Repression, said the transitional government tends to lower the ambitions of Sudanese people, and women in particular. She said ratifying the convention with reservations of acts like those in Article 2 contradicts the goal of the convention, as that article concerns equality. The government, she stressed, does not want women to have equality with men in the local legislations.

In late 2018 and early 2019, Sudanese women took prominent roles in public demonstrations against longtime President Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in April 2019.

Last year, some Sudanese women received international awards for their involvement in the democratic change in Sudan.

The post-Bashir transitional government endorsed some principles of human rights and women’s rights last year, but female activists such as Einas Muzamil are doubtful the government is willing to enact real reforms.

Muzamil said ratifying the CEDAW Convention with reservations of three fundamental articles caused anger among women and activist communities. The move fueled skepticism about the government’s willingness to make real change in Sudanese women’s situations, especially given that the women have equally participated with men in the great December revolution.