Sudan military coup threatens women’s gains since fall of dictatorship

When Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s dictator of 30 years, was ousted in 2019, women played a meaningful role in taking the dictatorship down. 

Sudan’s women had many good reasons to want Mr. Bashir gone. His fundamentalist Islamic regime made them second-class citizens. And 2 1/2 years after a transitional government took strength, Sudan is in many ways a different country. Women can go out with their heads uncovered. They can use pants. Female genital mutilation is outlawed, and, for the first time, the country has a national women’s soccer team.

Why We Wrote This

Sudan’s women have had the most to gain since the fall of a dictatorship in 2019. After this week’s military coup, they have the most to lose – so they’re taking up their historic place on the front lines to fight back.

Now, after the country’s military seized strength in a coup early Monday morning, women are mobilizing once again. 

“Women have so much to lose – we can’t provide to go back,” one activist in Khartoum told the Monitor. 

On Tuesday, Sudanese journalist Reem Abbas tweeted a photo of herself and two other women near their home in the Sudanese capital holding a handwritten sign. “Total civil disobedience,” it read in Arabic. “The decision of the people.”

Johannesburg

When protests in 2018 and 2019 ousted Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s dictator of 30 years, the charge was led by the country’s women.

“This dramatical change is a women’s dramatical change,” they chanted, marching by the streets of Khartoum and other cities with hijabs wrapped around their noses and mouths to protect them from dust and tear gas.

Now, after the country’s military seized strength in a coup early Monday morning, they are once again mobilizing.

Why We Wrote This

Sudan’s women have had the most to gain since the fall of a dictatorship in 2019. After this week’s military coup, they have the most to lose – so they’re taking up their historic place on the front lines to fight back.

Sudan’s women had many good reasons to want Mr. Bashir gone in 2019. His fundamentalist Islamic regime made them second-class citizens, forcing them to dress according to strict “moral” standards and seek male permission to travel or work.

Two and a half years later, Sudan is in many ways a different country. Women can go out with their heads uncovered. They can use pants. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is outlawed, and, for the first time, the country has a national women’s soccer team.



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