“I am a mouthpiece for all the women in my village and part of the decision-making body,” Regina Modong tells us.
Having a woman headman is virtually unheard of in rural South Sudan, a country plagued by gender inequities. Recent estimates indicate that about 65% of women have experienced some form of sexual and gender-based violence, including acts of child marriage, partner violence, female genital mutilation, or trafficking.
Regina is determined to change this. But living with her husband, Dominic, this wasn’t always easy. Dominic admits, “I used to think my wife did not have rights over land and cattle because I paid dowry and used to treat her like one of my properties. My belief was that she does not have the ability to take up any leadership role.”
But last year, Dominic was enrolled to be trained in Tearfund’s Transforming Masculinities program – a Biblically-based curriculum run in partnership with local churches. The goal of the course is to reduce sexual and gender-based violence while encouraging men to live as role models and promote positive masculinity. “The sessions were awakening,” Dominic says
The father of five served as the headman of his village after returning from the refugee camp. But after the training, Dominic decided to step down to give way to his wife, who has proven to be a good leader. She is now a role model in her village and her example has inspired other villages to consider women to take up similar leadership roles.