“With education you have the wings to fly the world” #IWD


South Sudanese women speak about their education and careers

FIGS celebrated International Women’s Day with a heart-warming and celebratory webinar in which South Sudanese women, both in South Sudan and the diaspora offered inspiration and advice to the students at Ibba Girls School, by sharing their experiences of education and work. The event was recorded and the videos will be made available to the students at Ibba once school returns in April (and you can find them below). FIGS Ambassador Pamela Lomoro, herself a South Sudanese engineer working in the energy industry in Aberdeen, chaired the event with FIGS Trustee Jean Hartley.

The jobs and experiences were very varied – a chemical engineer, a business owner-manager, a marketing manager, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a lawyer, an agriculturalist turned politician, the captain of the South Sudan women’s football team. After the event, FIGS also received two further short video recordings from South Sudanese women – from a Canadian government policy advisor and from a journalist in Juba. Two of the speakers were from Ibba Girls School – a teacher and the interim nurse. All the contributors talked about their work, what they liked about it, and how they had achieved their success – with advice to the Ibba girls to “study hard”, to “always be curious”, to be inspired by others in their chosen field. “Education is your future” one advised, and the footballer reminded Ibba girls that “aside from football, education is also important…. don’t forget about your books”.

The talks were inspiring in several ways. Partly it was the range and levels of job and career which some South Sudanese women have achieved, giving a picture of educated, confident women and therefore what South Sudan can achieve when it overcomes internal conflict and ploughs resources into education. It gives a glimpse of what the students at Ibba Girls School may achieve with the right financial and other support.

Also evident was the sheer grit and determination to achieve their goals and the challenges they had to overcome. “We struggled and we struggled.” Coming from a single parent family, growing up in a refugee camp, having war interrupt a university education part-way through and having to start again in another country, going to the Ukraine to study for many years in Russian, setting off to study in Malaysia, achieving a medical degree but the qualification not being recognised in another country, achieving qualifications and jobs in areas traditionally viewed as men’s jobs – these were just some of the hurdles of loss and loneliness that the speakers overcame.

Most of the speakers had studied at higher or further education level Some had been able to study in South Sudan, but others gained qualifications in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, India, Malaysia, Ukraine, Canada, and UK. It is to be hoped that in the longer-term, more can study within South Sudan as the country grows its education services.

At Ibba Girls' School, the Headteacher Vicky Dratia will use the videos of the speakers to spark discussions with the senior girls about their plans for their lives and careers beyond school (now just three years away). Not all Ibba girls will go on to ‘high-flying’ careers but education is never wasted if it creates confident, thoughtful and caring citizens. The videos will also be useful in schools across South Sudan and for boys as well as girls. You can watch the whole event playlist here or you can tune in to each speaker individually below.

You can also watch the Q&A session here, and messages from Jackie Galo and Dave Lewis.

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