Across some suburbs in juba south Sudan, female workers weighed down by heavy buckets are a common sight at stone crashing sites.

Madalina, a widow and a mother of three works crushing stones with her bare hand using a hammer or heavy metal at a stone crushing site in rock city, she says the work is very hard but has no option, because she has to feed and take care of her children.

“If I don’t do this who will feed these children of mine? Their father died since 2016, he was a solder, he left us with nothing, not even a piece of land, I have to work, I have moved looking for work but in vain, I even tried to do business but the capital was not enough so I had no option but crush this stone pile a heap then sale to get something little to take care of my children.”  Said madalina.

Regina, another woman working in rock city stone crushing site, says, the reason they are here is because they are looking for what to eat. Regina has been doing the work for six years now to meet her needs and pay her children in school. After piling a heap of aggregate they sell it for three thousand south Sudanese pounds [about 9 US dollar] each heap and sometimes the buyers even rarely come to buy sometimes it takes even three months or so.

“There are men working with us, but they earn more than us because they are energetic to pile bigger heaps so they earn more.” Says Regina.

Rise initiative for women’s right advocacy (RiWA), other NGOs and aid workers in South Sudan are trying to empower women saying, women have few alternatives as they try to rebuild their lives after the long-running war in the region maybe because their husbands abandoned them or died as a soldier in war. They acknowledge that more should have been done to improve these women hard labor working lives. The work is arduous and the pay is pitiful, but many women have no other way of earning a living.Most days the women stay working at the crashing site from six in the morning to six at night with little to eat. They drink unsafe water perhaps once or twice a day. Anything they do eat is taken out of what they earn after selling the aggregates hey pile.

Working to crush stone with bare hands using a hammer, making bricks, Construction, Mechanics etc.. is very hard for women These type of work Sometimes  cause fever and pain all over the body, women are stressed all the time from thinking about the type of work that they have to do. For a long time they don’t feel good at all, and when they start to feel better they go back to work again.

It is not just health problems that these female workers crashing stones face, they are in danger of being attacked and raped on the way to and from work. Many of them have been displaced from their village homes and are living in the outcasts of juba. They leave in the early hours of the morning and come back only when it is getting dark, increasing the risk of attack.

Economic empowerment is important for these women [to ensure] they don’t need to work in such hazardous environments. NGO and other aid workers have been talking about social welfare about developing projects that can give these women empowerment. The standards on how women should be treated. Providing help and training programmers to promote their standards of leaving.