Like other towns in the Blue Nile, Bow suffered a great deal during the Civil War in Sudan. The effects of the conflict can still be felt in the town, where the local population share the very limited provision of services with a large number of formerly Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The town has in fact almost been forgotten by outsiders, and when I visited for the Collaborative for Peace in Sudan, I was told that it the first visit that the community had received from a local NGO wanting to implement a project. Almost the entire burden of suffering in Bow is exacted upon the women of the community, who contribute heavily to livelihoods of residents and also take responsibility for ensuring their children receive an education. Despite their dynamic role in the economy, many of the women in Bow find themselves marginalised for cultural reasons. Most inhabitants of the town are from the tribes of Ingasanah, Fallatah and Ambararu.
As well as their economic roles, women have also remained the driving forces behind the peace process in the town. Despite the hardness of the life for women here (see the photos for an insight on the difficulties of life in Bow), they have preserved their interaction with other tribes, both Arab and non-Arab. In short, women are the advocates for peace in the district. For the upcoming election, women in town are the most keen to discuss the issue; this was demonstrated to us by the interest they showed in participating in the seminars that the Collaborative organized. After the seminars, the women also made considerable representations on the peace committees that were subsequently formed.
The women of Bow have urged the Collaborative to help them with initiatives and action related to the election, civic education and awareness raising. They have proposed a civic education action aimed at convincing community leaders, and males in general, of the need to allow women free, active and effective participation in public life. "If women are elected to local government, this will change the performance of local government. All we see now on local government is men only. We need a change", a local woman told me.
Based on our visit, The Collaborative for Peace in Sudan considers women in the district to be the sponsors for peace. However, work needs to be done to help them take the initiative to contribute to local government and also wider peace in Sudan.