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The Ministry of Social Welfare is exerting great efforts to minimize poverty among citizens. Several projects and programs that were introduced have tremendously helped some families to overcome poverty. The ministry’s role has not only been confined to fighting poverty but also passed laws that have helped protect families and their children. Despite merging powers and departments, the Ministry is working in full harmony to achieve the desired goals. Here Sudan Vision interviews Ms. Amira Al-Fadil, the Minister of Social Welfare, to enquire about the ministry’s future plans in this connection as well as the obstacles it has been facing and their methods of overcoming them.
Q: Decree 39 has granted the ministry various powers and tasks so it becomes the biggest ministry. How it is functioning now?
A: Of course, the decree has granted the ministry more powers. Now it is in charge of the social affairs with its special strategies and programs which target women, children, population, mothers, the handicapped and pensioners. It is also in charge of Zakat and promotion of the values of solidarity among the community components. As well as combating violence against women, consolidating and expanding the umbrella of social security, besides humanitarian affairs and national organizations; reenergizing and “Sudanization” of national NGOs, and finally, coordinating with international agencies. The ministry also supervises the work of the UN agencies operating in Sudan, surveys aimed at social development, drug issues, the ministries concerned with overall social affairs. The ministry now includes National Fund for Social Security, the Zakat Chamber, Health Insurance, National Pensions Fund, National Council for Population, National Council for the Handicapped and Humanitarian Aid Commission. It also supervises the policies of Savings Bank, the Sudanese Red Crescent. It has seven key departments: General Department of Women and Family, General Department of Foreign Cooperation, Center for Poverty Projects, Women Center for Peace and Development, Women Center for Human Rights, Center for Development of Community Culture and Center for Social Rehabilitation.
Q: The country is currently marking Mother's Day and International Women Day. What achievements are made for women under national policies to empower women approved in 2007?
A: We congratulate women on their Day. We, as the ministry concerned with women affairs, have policies for empowering women that have been approved since 2007 by the ministry’s council. We have plans including the fields of health, education and human rights. Since last year, we have been working on empowering women economically. A document was drafted for developing rural women and has become a national project blessed by the President of the Republic, Omar Hassan Al Bashir. The project has been implemented in the states and both internal and external partnerships were established with the UN Women as a technical partner as well as Central Bank of Sudan, Micro-Finance Institution, the Ministries of Agriculture Industry, Animal Resources, and Sudanese General Women Union. The project is sponsored by the presidential advisor, Mrs. Rajaa Hassan Khalifa. The ministry hopes that this project will contribute to food security in the country and liberate women sectors to involve them in field of production in the countryside; help women become self-dependent via adequate funding; provide them with needed skills, contribute to educate them via illiteracy eradication and health awareness programs. During International Women Day celebration which will be honoured by the President of the Republic, many memos will be signed in addition to honoring of a number of rural women pioneering in this field. Sudanese women have made various political, scientific, economical and social achievements. They enjoy 25 per cent representation in the Legislature and the Executive. Compared to the Arab and African worlds, Sudanese women are far developed and this course will be maintained to achieve further gains.
Q: Despite efforts underway, the rate of poverty remains high. How do you respond to that?
A: Since I assumed mission at the ministry, I have been tremendously concerned about the issue of poverty. Therefore, I drafted action plan for 2012 aimed at combating poverty. We have drawn lessons from previous experiences of Central Statistics Authority and the Ministry of Finance in this field. For the first time an integrated study on the poor in the country has been conducted by Zakat Chamber and some of civil society organizations. Such study has provided enough data on figures regarding the poor.
Q: Has the study encountered problems?
A: Sudan’s official delegation, including the civil society organizations took part in the UN 56th session in New York, where they explained the experience of Sudanese rural women while combating poverty and hunger. Amira Al-Fadil called for ending war as the country suffered a lot from civil conflicts, adding that negations would be the right approach to achieve peaceful solution to the country’s problem.
By Zuleikha Abdul Raziq, 24/04/2012