According to the BBC, an estimated 70 percent of Sudan protestors are women. Among calls to end corruption, unemployment and harassment of opponents, these women have also demanded an end to sexism that infringes on their rights.
After four months of protests, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has finally stepped down and the army will oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections.
Bashir, who had ruled the country for 30 years, is at the presidential palace under house arrest, confirmed the defence minister Awad Ibn Oufs.
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Tens of thousands of jubilant Sudanese, including women and children, were seen marching towards the military headquarters in the capital waving the national flag, singing and clapping. These women have been at the forefront of the unrest that has seen the end of Bashir’s tenure.
Women’s rights activists told euronews that Sudanese women have often been faced with restrictive laws that dictate to them what they can wear and where they can go. About 15,000 women were sentenced to flogging in 2016, non-governmental groups in Sudan said.
Protests in Sudan began last December following hikes in bread and fuel prices. The demonstrations quickly spread, and inspired by the success of similar protests in Algeria, protestors began calling on al-Bashir to step down.
Bashir, who is being sought by international prosecutors for alleged war crimes in the country’s western Darfur region, had refused to step down and said his opponents should seek power through the ballot box.
Media reports indicate that there were violent crackdowns on protestors, but this did not deter them from their actions. Women, who believe that Bashir’s regime is synonymous with all types of repression, played central roles in these demonstrations, often seen chanting and clapping among crowds with men often in a minority.
One of these brave women was Alaa Salah. The 22-year-old architecture student went viral after a photo of her standing on a car and speaking with one arm raised high was shared on social media.
The photo was taken on Monday night in the centre of Khartoum, amid tens of thousands who thronged the roads in front of the heavily guarded complex housing the military headquarters and other intelligence services.
The picture of the woman in white with gold earrings suddenly became an icon of the protest as well as a symbol of female leadership.
“She was trying to give everyone hope and positive energy and she did it,” Lana Haroun, who took the picture told CNN.
“She was representing all Sudanese women and girls and she inspired every woman and girl at the sit-in. She was telling the story of Sudanese women … she was perfect.”
Salah, standing above the crowd, was chanting “My grandmother is a Kandaka!” as the crowd responded with “Revolution!”
She added that Salaah’s outfit was a “callback to the clothing worn by our mothers & grandmothers in the 60s, 70s, & 80s who dressed like this during while they marched the streets demonstrating against previous military dictatorships.”
Her white robe and gold moon earrings also represented “working women” and “feminine beauty”.
Many were surprised to see a woman come out strongly against a regime that tends to suppress her colleagues, as many others, including Wifag, earlier told the BBC that she was arrested for her involvement in the protest.
But Salah, who said she had received death threats after her picture was shared via social media was not perturbed.
In the following video, she can be seen singing alongside other brave women who thronged the streets to demand the removal of their leader.