Suzan's story

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My name is Suzan

War has taken so much from Suzan, but she has always fought to protect her children. When her daughter became pregnant and faced forced marriage, Suzan dared to defy her family and communal pressures. And now, she helps others dare to do the same

I grew up in the bushes during the Second Sudanese Civil War and didn’t get the chance to go to school. So, I became a farmer. I was farming until my husband passed away, and that’s when I moved to Yei town with our three children – because everything now relies on me.  

In the Liberation War, I also lost some of my brothers, and some of them left behind little children who have been under my care until today. It is many people to provide for. I started selling small food items at the local market but I struggled in many aspects of my life. I would sell from morning to night, but still I wouldn’t make any profits. Even on days when I made little profit, it would get used so quickly. 

During the war in 2016, my market store was looted and armed men came looking for me in my house. Some suggested they kill me and others said I am just an innocent woman. In the end, they left me – but only after taking everything. I was depressed and my financial situation was very bad. Paying tuition for my children was so difficult. I would cry most days in my life, and there was no one to support me emotionally.  

I received counselling by some women affiliated with Women for Women International and I was so impressed with how it helped me. When I heard later that the organisation was registering participants for their programme, I immediately joined.

I hoped their training would strengthen me and I was right.

I learnt how to properly run my business and I am able to save some money for tuition for my family. It has helped me a lot.  

Now, I feel mentally empowered and happy. With or without anything at hand, I know how to manage and make sure my children eat. I no longer face extreme depression and when I am faced with a challenge, I am always looking for solutions instead of worrying. 

The training made me self-sufficient and it also boosted my self-confidence.

I decided I would never choose a new man over my children. No one can convince me now or trick me to abandon my family and go for another marriage, or to leave them to find an easy life.  

Suzan. Photo: Women for Women International
Suzan. Photo: Women for Women International

When my daughter became pregnant and my family tried to force her into early marriage, I dared to stop it. During the fight with my family, all that was on my mind was that I personally never went to school. I would do whatever it takes to make sure my daughters get an education. This girl was my firstborn. I told her not to be scared or worried that I would abandon her. I guided her to take care of herself during her pregnancy and kept on praying for a safe delivery. I told her once she gives birth and weans her child off breastfeeding, she would go back to school.

All that is in my mind is to do whatever it takes to make sure they finish their education. I take my grandchild as my own, my last born, and treat them the same. 

For my family, I am now able to save money and sustain my home. And for my community? I help other families and community members to solve the conflicts in their life. I no longer pay attention to gossip and hearsay.

Now, I am brave.



Women’s rights are under attack across the world, whether it’s our right to speak up against injustice, choose what to wear, or decide what happens to our bodies. 

But women dare to challenge oppression with acts of defiance — even in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. 

Meet other women who dare



In Afghanistan, Amina* dares to stand up for women’s rights. Women have been virtually erased from public life over the past two years: banned from parks, gyms, restaurants, most jobs and education. Opposing these restrictions is incredibly dangerous, but Amina dares to keep teaching in our training centre. She braves the constant scrutiny of government authorities and she dares to spread the word that education should be the right of every woman and girl.  



When Russia invaded, Iryna had the courage to stay in Ukraine. In a bomb shelter, she met women who had been sexually abused by Russian soldiers. Iryna dedicated her charity, The Andreev Foundation, to supporting women survivors of sexual violence. Women who speak out about sexual assault often face shame and suspicion, especially in rural areas of Ukraine. Iryna dares to believe survivors, to speak out against sexual violence and demand justice – despite the risk that the perpetrators will return.



Dada was forced to flee her home when Boko Haram threatened to kill her husband. Now she is a successful businesswoman and a leader in her community.