Facts you need to know about Minister of Foreign Affairs, Awut Deng

Ms. Awut Deng Acuil born on July 15, 1963, she is currently the South Sudan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and a member of South Sudan Legislative Assembly representing Tonj East Constituency. She also serves as a member of the political bureau as well as the National Liberation Council of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, South Sudan’s ruling party, for which she and her entire family have made immeasurable sacrifices over years. From 2005 to August 2019, Ms. Awut served in various positions which includes Presidential Advisor on Gender and Human Rights, Minister of Labor, Public Service and Human Resource Development, Minister of Humanitarian and Disaster Management and Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare. Ms. Awut was a member of the SPLM/A peace negotiating team in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed on January 9, 2005 in Kenya known as Naivasha Agreement, as well as a member of the national pre-transitional committee for the revitalized peace agreement on the resolution of conflicts in South Sudan in which she was a member who actively participated in the peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from January 2014. Ms. Awut is someone who has beaten personal odds that are difficult to imagine. Like thousands of South Sudanese women, she was married in her teens, lived in refuge in foreign countries with her children while her spouse fought in the liberation war in 1980s and 1990s, educated herself through sheer determination and wit, and above all, most tragically, widowed at a young age due to this liberation struggle. During the years of the war, when she lived in exile in Kenya, Ms. Awut Deng demonstrated so many of her talents in political and community organizing, human rights activism and peace building. She was involved in leading women’s groups in search for unity, peace and recognition of women’s rights as human rights. An expert trainer on conflict resolution, she contributed immensely to the success of the New Sudan Council of Churches as one of the most effective conflict mitigation organizations in Sudan. Her efforts through the NSCC, especially her focus on people-to-people peace initiatives in Bahr el-Ghazal and Upper Nile, which led to the ending of Nuer-Dinka conflicts, some of South Sudan’s most gruesome episodes of ethnic violence in the 1990s. More significantly, she pushed for New Sudan Council of Churches’ recognition of women’s important role in peace-building, a step that resulted in the mandate that peace teams are composed of at least one-third of women. For her demonstrated leadership in these initiatives, Ms. Awut Deng received a Peace Awards. In recognition of her leadership role in these efforts, Ms. Awut Deng received the 2002 Interaction Humanitarian Award for making a significant contribution to the political developments in Sudan that lead to the settlement of the conflict and for exemplifying the qualities of courage, leadership, initiative, creativity, grace under pressure, personal integrity and personal sacrifice. She was the second African woman to receive this award, the first having gone to Graca Machel, the wife of Nelson Mandela. She was also recognized for her vital role in global peace efforts and received the Fern Holland Award of the Vital Voices Global Partnership, presented to her by Hilary Clinton, in 2007. Some of the other major peace events that she has facilitated include the following: • A three-day consultation meeting for women leaders in Rumbek County, Lakes State. • A meeting with 93 chiefs, women’s groups and civil authority in Yirol County, Lakes State • Meetings focusing on inter-sectional fighting in Lakes State among the Dinka with SPLM County Secretaries in Rumbek, Yirol, Cueibet, Twic and Abyei Counties. • Participated in Building Blocks for Peace in the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region and in the women and the constitution conference. In her grassroots and international level advocacy for peace in Sudan, Ms. Awut met His Holy See John Paul II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches Dr. Raiser, Vice President of the United States of America Al Gore, senior staff of the United States Department of State and members of the United States Congress. Likewise, within the East African region, Ms. Awut Deng has liaised with parliamentary groups in Kenya and Uganda, prompting Kenyan MPs to pressure their government to stay clear of Sudan’s oil, declaring it blood oil for Sudan’s genocidal practices around oil fields. She was also involved in the founding of several civil society activist groups such as Sudanese Women’s Association in Nairobi to address issues of unity and peace among women of different ethnic backgrounds in South Sudan. She also co-founded Sudanese Women’s Voice for Peace to advocate for peace and reconciliation. Ms. Awut’s professional experience can be described as hands-on and action-oriented rather than theoret

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