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Talk of Juba 30: Celebrating trailblazing South Sudanese young women

Celebrating trailblazing South Sudanese young women

Talk of Juba 30: Celebrating trailblazing South Sudanese young women

In a dynamic collaboration, Talk of Juba joined forces with Hot in Juba last year to launch an annual initiative to honour young women. This initiative aims to recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of young South Sudanese women across diverse fields of expertise and professions.

While last year’s list, known as “40 Under 40,” spotlighted 40 remarkable young women, this year’s edition has been refined to showcase the top 30. Departing from the age-focused categorization of the previous list, the editorial team has chosen a more inclusive approach, emphasizing the extraordinary accomplishments of these young women irrespective of age.


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This shift reflects a commitment to honoring and highlighting their exceptional contributions, extending recognition well beyond the age of 40. As we unveil this curated selection, it’s a tribute to the talent, resilience, and impact of these young South Sudanese women who continue to excel in their respective fields.

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On this International Women’s Day, we honor the resilience, innovation, and leadership exemplified by these extraordinary women who have made an unforgettable mark in media, business, politics, music, and beyond.

Join us in celebrating these exceptional South Sudanese women, not merely as symbols of empowerment, but as living embodiments of courage and accomplishment, carving out spaces where their influence paves the way for a brighter, more inclusive future.

1. Nyakenya Johannes (Politician, MP Unity State Legislative Assembly)

“If you want to predict how a politician will act after winning an election, look at how he currently lives and how he has behaved in the past. A person does not live the way he says he would. He lives the way he has been living.” Haemin Sunim, the Zen Monk.

Regarding Nyakenya Johannes, our adjectives are reserved, for the above quote is advice she gave electorates in one of her social media handles ahead of elections. Her fearless brand of politics of tackling citizen concerns head-on gained her admiration from all corners, like speaking on the petroleum pollution in Unity State.

2. Nyachangkuoth Tai, (Gender Analyst)

We can write about Ms Tai for the whole day and will always have words. She is currently serving as a Member of the South Sudan Political Parties Council. Still, she is best known for being a gender analyst, certified mediator, and peace and conflict resolution expert, among others. With stints at AU, UNFPA and several other engagements, she is no doubt flying our flag so high and a true inspiration to millions of girls out there.

3. Achuil Mabek Lang, (Entrepreneur)

She is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of Lang Group of Companies, which deals in hospitality, construction, entertainment and fashion, and general maintenance and services. However, of all her ventures, she is credited with revolutionizing the country’s tourism and travel industry. Her travel and tourism agency, Lang Travels and Tours is a go-to agency in an industry dominated for so long by regional and global travel agencies such as Muthaiga, Charleston, and Satguru, among others.

4. Diko Andrew, (Radio Host)

Most people romantically refer to their loved ones as “one in a million”, just as the Ugandan Musical duo of Late Mowzey Radio and Weasel popularized it in their bread and butter hit song, we can also proudly say Diko is the only graduate in petroleum engineering in the Media Industry in the country. She is a popular radio host with Advanced Youth Radio in Juba, despite her expertise in innovative designing of drill equipment and planning of methods and techniques used to extract oil and gas from both onshore and offshore reserves.

5. Emma Kwaje Martin, (Girl Rights Activist)

Emma Kwaje is the Executive Director and Founder of Banat Power, a community-based initiative empowering young girls and women to rise beyond the inferiority complex. She’s also a journalist, poetess, gospel singer, and girls rights activist. Emma is the winner of the World Bank’s Blog4Dev competition in 2022. She is among 10 winners of the “2023 Future African Leaders Awards”.

Emma Kwaje Martin is also the winner of the 2021 Blog4Dev competition for South Sudan.

6. Yar Ajak Deng, (Journalist)

A journalist with Eye Radio, she believes in courage and hard work. No wonder she can juggle her journalistic duties, content creation, motherhood, and moonlighting as a Master of Ceremony (MC) in most events. A fete very few people can, thus her inclusion in the list.

7. Lin Nelson, (Radio Host)

Like Yar, Lin is just undoubtably a queen of microphone, and for that, she makes the list. Imagine working as a full-time journalist, radio presenter, content creator, MC, activist, writer, and marketer. She is beyond a jack-of-all-trades because she does everything exceptionally well, with tangible results. Don’t stress yourself thinking about what time she wakes up, goes to bed, eats. Her ability to make time for all those is what keeps surprising us as well.

8. Stella Nadia, (Journalist at Number One Citizen Newspaper)

Feminist and Gender activist: Isn’t Stella Nadia what you call breaking the glass ceiling?

That is for you, but the truth is, she is the editor-in-chief of Number One Citizen Daily Newspaper, literally the face of the daily. In South Sudan, where the talk of an editor-in-chief brings in pictures of the likes of Nhial Bol and the Late Alfred Taban, she truly deserves recognition; no wonder the number of female media practitioners is steadily on the rise.

9 Lady Kola, (Musician)

Like her or hate her, she deserves to be in this list. Others think she is a bad influence for her vulgar lyrics, but ironically, her haters enjoy foreign offensive lyrics without complaining. If properly engaged, she can influence her thousands of followers for the better. In case you are wondering, she is one of the most followed singers on Social media, thus the level of her influence.

10. Asha Juan, (Peer Educator)

Asha Juan Simon is a community ambassador of “Hagiga Wahid” and sexual reproductive health mentor. She also works with the South Sudan Girls Guide Association as a project officer. She has experience in working with communities and, most especially, considering the diversity and inclusion of the community. Asha has a certificate in basic nursing and first aid from Juba Academy, conflict resolution and peace building at Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative.

11. Adella Aldo Upio, (Gender Activist)

She is a Gender Activist, and a humanitarian. She is a graduate of International Relations and diplomacy. She worked for ACTED, CARDO and is currently working for International Organization for Migration (IOM). She provides mentorship and guidance to young girls in Western Bar el Ghazel State, Deliverance of Sanitary Pads to young girls, among other things, to support the Girl Child education.

12. Akon Grace Andrew, (Gender Activist)

She may not be popular but she is from the media industry, a sworn gender activist, and an aspiring writer.

To sum up her influence and advocacy, read this latest quote from her.

“I salute men who wake up every day, working hard to ensure food is on the table for their families. Men whose goal isn’t to dress nice, put nice perfumes or drive big cars, but their focus is their families. Men who work day and night. Men who can go hungry but the coin is kept for their families. You are our true kings and we salute you out there.”

13. Kiden, (Teenage Comedian)

She is the youngest comedian in the country and already winning awards. From sharing stage with East Africa’s Queen of Comedy Anne Kansiime to performing for high profile government dignitaries, Kiden is an household name in the country.

14. Amy Lasu, (Football star, captain of South Sudan’s national women Football team)

Amy Lasu Luaya Lasu is a South Sudanese footballer who plays as a midfielder. The 27-year-old footballer is the captain of the South Sudan women’s national football team and the ambassador of women’s football for the South Sudan Football Association. Besides playing football, she also coaches young girls and mentors the next generation of South Sudanese female footballers.

15. Monica Yuol, (Essayist)

She is a student at Darling Wisdom Academy in Juba, South Sudan. She emerged the 9th overall winner of an essay writing competition held in Germany that involved participants from 32 countries across six continents and the 1st from South Sudan and Africa at large.

She is a testimony to what a brighter future awaits South Sudanese girls if more is invested in our education system.

16. Victoria Achai Kuol Deim, (Lawyer)

There is an everyday talk in town: if you have a land case, look for elderly lawyers who have lived in Juba for over two decades because they know the history of land allocations very well. For a criminal case, hunt for an East African-trained lawyer, for it is where the genesis of all criminal acts committed in South Sudan begins. However, when it comes to legitimate or illegitimate oil and gas matters, there is only one saving grace for you to emerge victorious: Victoria Achai Kuol — no wonder victory is in her Victoria name. Don’t take our word for it, but ask the professors of Aberdeen University in Scotland and the NilePet gurus who always rely on her expertise, particularly in Petroleum Policy Framework, Contracting in Hydrocarbons, Negotiations of Petroleum Contracts, Dispute Resolution in the Energy Sector, Upstream and Downstream Law, International Petroleum Legal treaties and Environmental Energy Law. She is truly a trailblazer for the millions of Junubin girls out there.

17. Dr. Julia John, (Sport doctor)

She is a sport doctor and works with the South Sudan Basketball Federation as the team physician of both the male and female national basketball teams.

She is currently pursuing her Masters in Sports Science and Nutrition at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Besides her engagements with the National Basketball team and further education, she is also an entrepreneur, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of moya I.V., an electrolyte start-up company aiming to improve the South Sudanese people’s hydration and overall wellness.

18. Imoya Daniella (journalist)

She is a renowned freelance journalist, entrepreneur and researcher. After different stints in broadcast media, she worked as a researcher for “Junub Games”, a nonprofit community organization that focuses on developing video, mobile and board games for peacebuilding in South Sudan.

What makes Imoya exceptional is her down-to-earth attitude of interacting with and being there for people from all walks of life.

19. Irene Lasu, (journalist)

With nearly a decade in broadcast media, this jolly radio presenter needs no introduction. She is the co-host of the Miraya breakfast show, a news junkie in her own words, a writer, a mother, and above all, an entertaining peaceful woman. In fact, young girls were found fighting in Torit, with each claiming that she was the one who could talk like Irene Lasu, according to one of her elderly fans.

Another of her passionate fans, a renowned digital strategist Zack Mayul, is said to be mobilizing resources to get her a blue tick x (twitter) verification checkmark in recognition of her excellent job.

20. Deborah Akec Kuocnin, (Undersecretary Ministry of Youth and Sports)

There is no way she is going to miss our list. She is the new Undersecretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and before that, she served as the state minister for Labour in Lakes State, a clear sign her stars are rising.

21. Winnie Cirino, (journalist)

She is the new face of Radio Miraya, but don’t be surprised next time you find her outside the media space. She is also a professional ICT Engineer. Before joining Miraya, she was known for exceptionally exclusive stories; her eyes and ears for stories mostly made most of her colleagues wonder if they were in the right profession.

22. Wilma Grace, (Radio Host)

In most African family set-ups, you are a weaver bird when an elder wants to scold you for being talkative. Wilma is that weaver bird you always listen to on Advance Youth Radio’s Power Drive Show.

Like most radio hosts, this Wilma Weaverbird is an MC and a content creator, among other things.

23. Serina Dominic Moses, (Rights Activist)

She is a passionate women’s rights activist based in Wau and also the acting chair of the Young Women’s Forum – Wau, where she conducts a series of mentorship sessions with adolescent girls in Wau.

She is a household name in Wau, especially among girls of 13-18 years, for teaching them Confidence Building and Self-esteem, Hygiene and Reproductive Health.

24. Ayey Madut, (Lecturer at the University of Juba)

It doesn’t matter how you define patriotism, but to us, Ms Ayey’s decision to leave her comfort zone in Australia to come and serve in South Sudan is true patriotism, something very few people do. Ms Ayey is a lecturer at the University of Juba and a seasoned Research Consultant specializing in health and environmental impact assessment, gender mainstreaming, and project evaluations. With over 12 years of experience in Public Health, research, data analytics, SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights), and SGBV (Sexual and Gender-Based Violence), Ayey brings her wealth of expertise to various spaces. She actively engages in gender-sensitive project implementation and works towards improving food security and livelihoods.

In addition to her role as a Research Consultant, Ayey serves as the Executive Director for The Chagai Foundation, a women-led organization in South Sudan. In this leadership position, she continues to advance gender equality while overseeing organizational initiatives. Ayey strategically integrates the outcomes of EIAs into the foundation’s projects, emphasizing the importance of environmental considerations in community development.

Ayey serves as a women’s representative on the CTASMVM board and is a board member for Gender Talk 211, showcasing her multifaceted dedication to positive change, environmental stewardship, and women’s empowerment.

25. Cecilia Adut Manyok, (South Sudan Permanent Representative of South Sudan to the United Nations)

In a historic move earlier this year, Cecilia Adut Manyok shattered glass ceilings as she was appointed by President Salva Kiir as the first female Permanent Representative of South Sudan to the United Nations. This groundbreaking appointment marks a significant milestone not only for herself but also for the representation of women in diplomacy and the global stage.

With her new role, Adut is poised to usher in a new era of diplomacy and representation for South Sudan at the United Nations. As the highest-ranking diplomat representing her country on the international stage, Cecilia brings with her a wealth of experience and expertise in diplomatic affairs.

Her appointment is a testament to the increasing recognition of the importance of gender equality and diversity in diplomatic circles. By breaking barriers and occupying a position traditionally held by men, she paves the way for more women to enter the field of diplomacy and contribute their unique perspectives to global issues.

Furthermore, Adut’s presence at the United Nations signifies a commitment to inclusivity and empowerment, not only within the realm of diplomacy but also within South Sudanese society as a whole. As a trailblazer and role model for women and girls in her country, Adut’s appointment sends a powerful message about the value of women’s leadership and participation in decision-making processes.

In the face of complex global challenges, including conflicts, humanitarian crises, and climate change, Adut’s diplomatic skills and dedication to peacebuilding will be invaluable assets. Her presence at the United Nations represents an opportunity for South Sudan to engage more effectively with the international community and advocate for its interests on the world stage.

As Cecilia Adut Manyok assumes her role as Permanent Representative of South Sudan to the United Nations, she carries with her the hopes and aspirations of her fellow citizens, as well as the promise of a more inclusive and representative future for diplomacy worldwide. Her historic appointment serves as a beacon of progress and possibility, inspiring women and girls everywhere to pursue their dreams and strive for excellence in all endeavors.

26. Asunta Achok Gum, (Chemical Engineer at the Ministry of Petroleum)

Assunta Achok is chemical and material science engineer. She studied in South Korea.

Currently working at the Ministry of Petroleum as an A/Inspector for Petrochemicals. As a government employee, most of her work is supervision and lots of inspections. These comes with various activities such as health and safety awareness for the oil producing communities. She loves activities involving young girls and women because she grew up being inspired and motivated by other women over the years according to her.

27. Aker Angui Nyal, (Female Construction Worker)

Aker Angui Nyal is a 20-year-old South Sudanese from Gogrial West County in Warrap State is one of the youngest female masons in the country. A senior four graduate, who sought to be financially independent. According to media reports, she ventured into the craft not because her family is poor, to the contrary, she is from a well of family were all her needs are taken care of; however, her vision is to inspire the young girls and women around her.
According to her, “when women venture into male dominated fields, it fosters empowerment, equality, and societal change.”

28. Monica Malith, (Student Leader, Law Student)

She is a South Sudanese studying Law in the University of Nairobi. She made history last year as the first South Sudanese elected to lead the University of Nairobi Students’ Association (UNSA).

The UNSA elections were held on on Friday, March 22, 2023, where students successfully cast their votes online through an electronic ballot for the Faculty and Campus Students Association teams. On Saturday, March 25, 2023, 39 electors from all 13 electoral colleges cast their votes for the Students’ Council.
Team Malith emerged winner beating two other candidates.

Fingers are currently crossed in South Sudan as to what political future awaits her, as the UNSA position is known for being a stepping stone for those with future political ambitions such as Kenya’s fire brand politician Babu Owino among many others who served in the same position in the past.

29. Aluel Garang aka Aluel Messi, (Deputy Governor of Warrap State)

She is currently serving as the Deputy Governor of Warrap State. If you are a parent who is nagging your children for their love of sports, especially girls, then look no further than Aluel Messi.

Nicknamed after arguably the greatest player to grace football, Argentine star Lionel Messi, she popularized football among South Sudanese girls, and her persistence with the sports is well documented despite pressure from her husband. It’s through football that she came to the limelight, eventually earning her the second powerful position in Warrap State; something all girls can draw inspiration from.

Though difficult to access her for a career guidance, her former team mate intimated to us that passing near her office clad in a Lionel Messi jersey and holding an old faded ball will guarantee you an audience with her.

30. Alam Chaat Paul, (Banker)

Alam Chaat is a seasoned professional with extensive experience in the banking industry, currently serving as the Head of Diversified Sector at Stanbic Bank. With a proven track record of success, Alam excels in leading diverse teams and driving strategic initiatives to optimize performance and foster growth within the bank’s diversified sector. His expertise and leadership make him a valuable asset to the organization.

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