DRC: women, citizenship and peacebuilding

Femmes noires en marche sur la rue - Chantal Faida

Tuesday, November 6, 2013, a peaceful march to salute the high feats of arms, the victory of the FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo) over the rebels of the M23 and therefore the peace found in North Kivu saw the participation of hundreds of thousands of women in the Congolese capital. A memorandum was submitted to the President of the National Assembly and to the Minister of Gender. On the sidelines of this grandiose event, a large delegation of women from North and South Kivu met the national elected representatives of these provinces to share their concerns about respect for gender in strategic positions, an opportunity for discussion that they seized.

A statistical table of the level of under-representation of women in the province of North Kivu was presented during the meeting.

  • Only one woman provincial deputy out of 42 men,
  • No female governor or even deputy,
  • No woman, city mayor of the three cities in the province, except in Beni where there is a deputy mayor,
  • A female mayor in the two municipalities of the city of Goma, capital of the province,
  • Six female heads of division out of a total of 56 posts,
  • Only one woman administrator of the territory in Walikale and a deputy in Rusthuru and Lubero,
  • A woman director of a public company (DGI-N/K) out of a high number of men in the same position.

Political will is lacking among Congolese decision-makers

The struggle of Congolese women for their integration into decision-making bodies commands the admiration of more than one. Women politicians, members of civil society, artists, young people, all work tirelessly (sensitization, campaign to raise awareness of their peers in both rural and urban areas and other training on the role of gender in society) for the recognition of their skills in building a big, strong and prosperous Congo.

The reactions of their male partners are not encouraging. According to Kakule M., a political actor in Kinshasa “they make a little too much noise about the importance of gender, while very few of them are prepared to assume the positions of responsibility they claim”.

“This women’s deficit alibi doesn’t hold up. They are as capable as men of occupying strategic positions. Because we have seen them all at work for ages, and our country still lags behind other emerging nations even without natural wealth. She continues, “Leadership, pugnacity and integrity are genderless virtues. Men or women can have them quite equally. What our decision-makers lack is the political will, no more and no less; and this is the object of our fight. »

Henriette N. civil society actress in Goma reacted very quickly 👆

Alongside this lack of political will, cultural constraints influence the discriminatory nature of women in Congolese society.

Texts yes, but until they are applied, there will be no change

Equal access to education, justice, property, credit, employment, inheritance, marriage; most of these rights are compromised by provisions or outright trampled upon by those who should put them into practice.

“It is not a favor to recognize the merits of women, but it is an inalienable right. We are born equal before God and men. The woman is a force and a power. Ignoring it is nothing but pure cynicism.”

Jolie H. artist from Goma told me 👆

However, there are texts in the Congo and around the world guaranteeing equal rights between men and women. Article 14 of the Congolese Constitution which stipulates that gender parity must be respected in the workplace, a law for the protection of women against gender-based violence was passed in July 2006, the recent speech by the head of Congolese State which insisted on the respect of 30% of representation of women in both public and private bodies and the resolution 1325 of the United Nations Security Council on women, peace and security. Everyone knows it, the Congo is a cemetery of beautiful texts which suffer from non-implementation. The elected officials have promised to look into the matter.

For these women, there is no question of giving up the fight, they even plan to meet the Head of State to tell him of their demands, especially at this time when the establishment of a government of national cohesion is underway. Their dream, a woman at the head of the prime minister’s office. An ideal dream, but still achievable?


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