Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Congolese Women Appeal to the Global Community

Congolese Women Offer Prescriptions for Ending Sexual Violence in Congo
Bibiane Aningina Tshefu, Women’s Coordinator & Adviser, Friends of the Congo and
Kambale Musavuli, Student Coordinator & Spokesperson, Friends of the Congo

During the week of March 1-12, 2010, several women from the D.R. Congo came to New York to participate at the United Nations 54th Commission on the Status of Women. This is a high level annual international Women’s Forum. The Congolese women represented both government and non-government sectors as well as different provinces of their country. They had ample opportunity to raise their concerns to the gathering during assembly, speak to United Nations officials, policy-makers, members of the New York civil society and community, as well as key members of President Obama’s administration.

The women came with a singular focus, to articulate how Congolese women felt the global community could best address the fourteen-year conflict in the D.R. Congo. Wherever the women ventured, whether it was a community forum in Harlem, gathering at local churches, forums at the United Nations or meetings with Obama administration officials, they articulated a consistent and resolute message. Listen to the Congolese for a change: as “we have repeatedly shared with the international community how they can optimally participate in bringing an end to the geo-strategic resource war in the Congo.”

Western based Think Tanks, humanitarian institutions and policy makers often argue that they have tried everything to bring an end to the conflict. However, a cursory look at the policies that have been prescribed or implemented reveals that almost every policy option tried, has avoided core grassroots women recommendations. Policies implemented by the international community are marked by a reluctance to pressure U.S. and British allies Rwanda, led by Paul Kagame and Uganda, headed by Yoweri Museveni. Also, in spite of the myriad United Nations studies, there has been deadly silence around the role of western mining interests in the perpetuation of the conflict.

The Congolese women shared the following prescriptions to bring an end to the conflict:
1. Call for an Inter-Rwandan dialogue between Rwanda’s Tutsi leadership and Hutu rebels inside Congo. There are no military solutions to what is essentially a political crisis.

2. Opening and expansion of democratic space inside both Rwanda and Uganda so their internal conflicts will cease being fought on the bodies of Congolese women.

3. Greater participation in political life and the decision-making process on the part of Congolese women.

4. Redirection of focus on the part of the global community from targeting the symptoms or effects of the conflict to addressing the root causes - primarily a foreign resource war being waged inside Congo to the detriment of innocent civilians.

In the final analysis, Sexual violence is a consequence of war, therefore, in order to end the violence against women, the conflict must end which requires an end to impunity inside the Congo and in the international community’s involvement in the Congo.

Click on below links to read the messages from the women:

Senator Eve Bazaiba Masudi – "The Political Implication of Congolese Women, for Change and the Promotion of Good Governance in the DRC "

Mme Annie Matundu Mbambi - "The Role and Involvement of Women in the Congolese Peace Process"

Mme Jeanine Gabrielle Ngungu - "The Problematic of Violence Against Women: A Major Challenge in the National Reconstruction Process"

Mme Marie-Claire Faray - "A Message From Congolese Women on the 8th March International Women's Day"

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) message from Congolese women. Video message read by Katherin Machalek, WILPF consultant.

Remember to join Friends of Congo on the Break the Silence Tour. Click here to see tour stops!


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