The emerging view in the scholarship about the Sudanese Women's Union (SWU) is that it was basically the creation of the patriarchal Sudanese Communist Party (SCP). On the contrary, this essay will argue that it was the product of the party's women's cadre. To this effect, the essay revisits a debate about gender and Marxism that took place in the party after the October Revolution of 1964, which led to the enfranchisement of women as full-fledged citizens. This debate pitted Abdel Khaliq Mahgoub, secretary of the SCP, and Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim, a member of the Political Bureau of the SCP and president of the SWU. In this debate, Ibrahim was critical of the reform of the SWU proposed by Mahgoub. The reform revolved around two issues. First, the SWU should engage the gender issue by addressing the relation of men and women in society. Second, the SWU should reorganize itself. This restructuring initiative was intended to better serve women's grassroots organizations. Ibrahim dismissed the gender part of Mahgoub's initiative as premature and secondary to engaging women in national politics at large. Worse, she rejected the restructuring of the union as a liquidationist idea. The reform was eventually forgotten because the party was pressed by political contingencies that led to its downfall in 1971.
Abdullahi Ali Ibrahim; The House That Matriarchy Built: The Sudanese Women's Union. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2010; 109 (1): 53–74. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2009-024
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