The unrest and violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has continued. Attacks on civilians are frequently reported, often as part of conflicts between warring factions. One of the most badly affected provinces is South Kivu. But there are also reports of a more positive nature.
96 women were supported
During 2008 Diakonia’s partner organisation ASOP gave support to 96 women (most of who were subjected to plundering, assault and/or rape) so that they can return home. The support has been given on several levels. To be able to support oneself and living a dignified life is one form of redress. Finding out about their rights and getting legal assistance – so that the assaults they suffered are not simply swept under the carpet – is another important aspect of this support. Where the guilty are held accountable, this demonstrates in action the value of the women.
A micro-loan well invested
Petronille Chibalama in the village of Mwendo received a micro-loan of USD 188 from ASOP. She invested the money in seed and sowed onions and cabbage. With the income from her harvest, she paid for schooling for her seven oldest children. And she invested in goods so that she could open a small shop.
Involves both men and women
Having financial security, food for the day and seeing her children grow and develop is now the foundation of Petronille’s involvement in ASOP’s courses on women’s rights. ASOP always involves men in their work for gender equality, too. Both women and men in Mwendo affirm that the women now have more influence and that there is less violence against women by men.
Solid support for women rights in the new constitution
The new constitution and new laws in the country provide solid support for gender equality and women's rights. So far however, only eight percent of elected representatives at the national level in the Congo are women.
Civil society plays a vital role
But there are many strong women and men working for gender equality and equal opportunity in civil society. They are working to ensure that the new laws function as intended. And to reduce poverty, so that more people will be able to become engaged in the fight for the equal value of all.
Diakonia's partner ASOP always involves men in their work for gender equality. Both women and men in the village Mwendo affirm that the women now have more influence and that there nowadays is less violence against women by men.