KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - The new transitional council of ministers has embodied four women two of whom have assumed two ministerial offices hitherto a monopoly of men. These two ministers are Foreign Affairs Minister Asma Mohammad Abdallah, who became the first woman to assume this office in the history of the Sudan. The other woman is Sports Minister Wala’a Alboushi.
The remaining two ministers are Prof. Entisar Seghairoon who became Minister of Higher Education and Leena Alsheikh who was appointed Minister of Social Welfare.
Prime Minister Hamdok has considered this number far less than he wanted, promising to increase women representation in the future.
Now the question: Who are these four women?
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Diplomat Asma Mohammad Abdalla
Sources said Minister Asma was picked for the crucial portfolio for her long experience in diplomacy that spanned over two decades during which she could project the true picture of a Sudanese female civil servant and for her understanding of the role she can play for the progress of her country.
Born in Khartoum, Minister Asma had joined the Foreign Ministry in 1971 shortly after graduating from the University of Khartoum. At that time diplomacy was a true adventure for Sudanese women who were still battling against social constraints that confined the role of women to family affairs. At the time females were streamlined in jobs which did not require long travel or long stays outside the family home.
But Asma was undaunted and delved into this domain, together with her colleagues, Ambassador Fatima Albeeli and Zainab Abdlkareem.
Beside their diplomatic professional achievements as diplomats, Asma and her colleagues scored yet another success represented in their ability to break social taboos and demonstrate the ability of women to lead in diplomatic work. That initiative by Asma, Zainab and Fatima had encouraged other women to delve into this demanding job.
Asma’s working colleagues have described her as a tactful and a quick learner. She calculates her steps, has an immense ability to progress, knowledgeable and highly cultivated, they say. Some of her colleagues during her early days in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were stunned to see such a young lady who can really outmatch her male peers in a domain that requires persons with exceptional abilities.
Minister Asma had served at the Ministry’s head office and in the country’s embassies abroad until she reached the scale of Minister Plenipotentiary. At a certain point in her career she assumed the deputy head of the Ministry’s Two America’s Administration. She also served in Sudan’s diplomatic missions in Stockholm, Rabat and Oslo.
But by the coming of the defunct regime of Omar Albashir, she was in 1990 dismissed from the Foreign Ministry along with scores of other efficient diplomats and thousands of civil servants under the ugly “public interest law.”
But very soon Asma found a good job at the secretariat of the Arab organization for the defense against crime in Rabat (Morocco). She then assumed a job in the general secretariat of the Arab labor ministers in Rabat also. And then she assumed a job in the Islamic Scientific Educational and Cultural Organization (ISECO).
Asma holds a BA in economics and political science from the University of Khartoum plus an MA in international relations from the University of Syracuse (US) and a post-graduate diploma in translation from the University of Khartoum.
Minister Asma was always keen to stay close to the pulse and culture of the Sudan. This is represented in her life after she was dismissed from her diplomatic work when she devoted much of her time to help her countrymen and solve their problems.
Even when she moved to live in Rabat her home was a haven for Sudanese studying in Morocco who called in search of advice and family warmth and, very often, for original Sudanese meals.
Asma was very active in the recent uprising that saw the downfall of Bashir’s rule.
Asma is married and has one daughter.
Minister of Higher Education,
Archeologist, Professor, Entisar Alzain Seghairoon
Born in Khartoum North in 1958, Prof Entisar graduated with honors from the Faculty of Arts, University of Khartoum in 1982, majoring in archeology. She served in the University’s archeology section most of her career. In 1987 she obtained an MA degree in archeology from the American University in Cairo and then in 2002 she obtained a doctorate degree in the same discipline from the University of Khartoum.
She was known for her high passion for archeology and for digging into the ancient Sudanese civilization, arriving at excellent research and findings in the ancient civilizations of Kerma and Meroe and in the post-Islamic artifacts. She boasts listing 33 archeological sites in the country which archeologists consider a great breakthrough in archeology that can help be utilized as an economic resource for the country.
According to her student Alsiddiq Omar Alsiidiq, who now chairs the Professor Abdallah Altayib Arabic Language Academy, Dr. Entisar is a “distinct archeological researcher who is now dean of scientific research at the University after assuming the offices of head section of archeology and Faculty of Arts’ Dean at previous stages of her career.”
Entisar was part of the University of Khartoum teachers initiative that forwarded a memo during the popular uprising calling ousted President Omar Albashir to step down.
She has a lot of publications and research papers including her book” Islamic Artifacts In Sudan”, which was published by Cambridge University, UK.
Prof. Entisar hails from a family of educated men and women: Her grandfather (her mother’s father) is Abelrahman Ali Taha who was the country’s first Minister of Education at the country’s independence. Her aunt Fadwa Abdelrahman Ali Taha is a University professor, while her father Alzain Seghairoon was once the Minister of Irrigation.
Prof. Entisar chairs the Late Professor Abdallah Altayeb Charity. As dean Faculty of Arts she used to reserve all her job incentives to help the University’s poor students.
Minister of Social Welfare and Labor,
Leena Alsheikh Omar
Leena had acquired a practical expertise of 18 years in socio-economic development, business administration, corporate social responsibility, sustainability and strategic planning.
Leena had graduated with honors from the school of business administration of the Ahfad Women University.
Upon graduation, she had won the award of` the best graduation project for financial management for her research: “Inability of development schemes in the repayment of debts- case study the Gezira Agricultural Scheme.”
At University, she had also won the award for extracurricular activity.
Leena then obtained an MA in economics (development studies- Faculty of Economic and Social Studies-University of Manchester).
She is lecturer of economics at the Ahfad Women University (development and human resources, the basics of management and economic development). She heads the Care International Program.
She is also the first manager of external affairs in Shell Sudan and the company’s spokesperson. She is also Sudan coordinator and counselor of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The UNGC is a United Nations initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation.
Leena is also consultant of a number of bodies on interaction with stakeholders, companies, partnership between private and public sectors, social responsibility, business leadership, development and strategic planning. She believes in collective work, partnerships among different sectors and the adoption of arts and novel approaches to attain the required change at all levels.
Minister of Youth and Sports,
Wala’a Esam Alboushi
On her webpage, Wala’a has called her Ministry “The Revolution’s Ministry”. That is because, she argues, the youth (both male and female) ‘had led the demonstrations, the sit-ins and all the other sorts of protests’.
Wala’a came into the limelight a few years back when she met the then US President Barack Obama and told him about the suffering of Sudanese because of the US sanctions on the country. She was then part of a study mission in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking.
Photos taken of the encounter showed the welcoming spirit with which Obama had received and listened to what she wanted to say.
Wala’a had written on her webpage at the time that she told the American leader that her people (and not the Government) bear the brunt of the sanctions.
Wala’a’s available CV is that of a youth activist who worked in civil society organizations, defending the rights of women and children. She has participated effectively in the popular uprising against Bashir.
Minister Wala’a was born in 1986 in Wad Medani of the Gezira State (Central Sudan). She is a mechanical engineer by education and has obtained an M.sc with honors in mechanical engineering from the London Imperial College. She had studied her M.sc on scholarship from Britain along the British Government’s scholarships for young leaders worldwide. Before that she had obtained a B.sc with honors in mechanical engineering from the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (University of Khartoum).
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