South Sudan Vice President for Gender and Youth, Rebecca Nyandeng Garang has blamed the country’s leadership for failing it’s people.
“I will not shy away from admitting that many of us leaders in this country have failed to empower our population particularly the youth … it is our responsibility to empower the youth,” Nyandeng said during the launch of a national campaign to end child marriage.
According to UNICEF, about 52% of girls in Africa’s youngest country are married off before the age of 18. The child-rights body ranks South Sudan as the seventh country with the highest prevalence rate of child marriage in the world.
High levels of instability, economic decline, poverty erosion of services and malnutrition drive many families to marry off their daughters as a survival tactic.
Vice President Nyandeng, also fondly known in South Sudan as Maama Garang for her fight for the rights and welfare of women and girls believes that the country’s leadership should take responsibility for the causative factors and its failure to empower the young people.
“I speak a lot about the future of this country and the type of legacy we will be leaving for our children or grandchildren and the many generations still to come … what is the legacy we are going to leave?” she asked.
Maama Garang was appointed Vice President in the Transitional Government of National Unity in February 2020 after President Salva Kiir reached a deal with opposition leaders in talks brokered by regional Bloc IGAD.
The new government is struggling to pull the country out of the ruins of a five-year civil war, which killed over 400, 000 people, and left the economy on its knees.
According to local Eye Radio, nine out of ten youth aged 15-24 are without formal employment in the country.
Maama Garang wonders whether the youths will be “proud of what they have inherited from us, or will they be liberated enough to ensure that the injustice of today doesn’t turn into hatred of tomorrow.”