Why women led the uprising in SudanBreaking News
tags: Sudan, womens history, international affairs
Nasredeen Abdulbari is a doctoral researcher at the Georgetown University Law Center. He was a lecturer in the International and Comparative Law Department, University of Khartoum, as well as a Stoffel Scholar and a Satter Fellow at Harvard Law School.
The protests that led to the ouster of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, have been dominated by women. Day after day on the streets of Khartoum, as many as two-thirds of those who turn out are women. Photos of women — angry, defiant, now celebratory — have become emblems of the uprising.
Various segments and groups of Sudanese society have taken part in the protests and are still demonstrating out of concern that Thursday’s military coup will not usher in the freedom, justice or peace that the protesters seek. People from different political, ethnic, religious and social backgrounds have participated in the protests, culminating in a historic sit-in at the headquarters of the Sudanese Armed Forces. But women — always — have been at the forefront.
There is an overarching reason, stemming from the role of women in Sudanese society. But there are particular reasons, too: the ferocious oppression that women have experienced under Bashir’s government, as well as the hardships that they felt as the economy deteriorated.
Throughout Sudan’s history, women have played a central role in society. In the ancient Sudanese Nubian kingdoms, women were queens and queen mothers, and they were referred to as “Kandakat,” or strongwomen. In the Darfur region, and western Sudan more broadly, women who write poems in support of virtues and traits such as bravery in times of war and generosity in times of peace have historically played significant social and political roles. This tradition has helped give strength to and inspire those leading the current uprising.
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