Kinshasa: Women's political participation at the center of exchanges between the head of MONUSCO and an advocacy mission
A dozen women from the countries of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), of the African Union, supported by UN Women and led by Catherine Samba Panza, honorary president of the Central African Republic, have been in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, since July 11.
This delegation, whose members come from different African countries, is advocating for a better political participation of women, their involvement in the Nairobi peace talks as well as their contribution in the efforts to promote peace and security, in accordance with UN resolution 1325.
This is their third advocacy mission to the DRC. In Kinshasa, the delegation met with several Congolese officials and decision-makers as well as civil society organizations and other partners to assess the progress made during the first two missions to the DRC
Advocacy with MONUSCO
On Tuesday, July 12, the Advocacy Mission had a face-to-face meeting with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in DRC, Bintou Keita. Representatives of other UN components in the DRC were also present.
Discussions focused on the elements of advocacy to be presented to Congolese decision makers involved in this process.
Catherine Samba Panza and her entourage also had discussions with several other structures, women's groups, civil society and youth. The head of the advocacy mission stressed that it is time to change the narrative of women who have long been victimized.
"It is time for women to act, it is time for women to take action, it is time for women to take initiatives. Women must engage in this new dynamic of action and no longer be passive and submit to the decisions of others".
The honorary president of the Central African Republic also maintained that the statistics are clear: women constitute the majority in the world and that it is difficult and unthinkable to talk about peace and development in Africa without involving them at all levels.
Peace is sustainable when women are involved
"Peace cannot be sustainable without women. It is time to ensure that the issue of women's participation is systematically taken into account in the agenda of decision-makers," said Bintou Keita, during the meeting.
The Head of MONUSCO also insisted on the fact that when they are involved, women bring a plus and constitute a major asset to the building of a sustainable peace.
"We are pleased to support this important mission that aims to strengthen the inclusion and consideration of the needs of Congolese women in the ongoing peace, political, and tension de-escalation processes and the promotion of reconciliation among the populations of the Great Lakes region."
Bintou Keita insisted on the fact that the role of women in our societies is not limited to the role of victim. According to her, "women are first and foremost agents of change and when they have the opportunity, they bring considerable support to the consolidation of peace."
In her remarks, she called on everyone to join efforts to help fight against the perpetuation of stereotypes that limit the role of women in society.
She also welcomed the involvement of the Congolese Head of State who fights for the promotion of positive masculinity.
Women's involvement in the protection of civilians
The Deputy Special Representative Khassim Diagne and the Chief of the United Nations Police, Mody Berethé, participated via video conference from the city of Goma, in North Kivu.
Khassim Diagne briefed the Advocacy Mission on the efforts of the UN Mission in DRC to protect civilians.
"We are working for the protection of civilians with a participatory and women-inclusive approach at the local level, especially in the eastern part of the DRC."
Mr. Diagne stressed that this protection work is based on five major pillars:
Violence reduction projects
"In the area of security governance, we involve women in local security committees and in the early warning system; they are very active. We are also working with women's groups involved in conflict resolution to reduce inter-community violence," he added.
The head of the advocacy mission, Catherine Samba Panza, emphasized that after the DRC, other advocacy activities will be carried out in neighboring countries, members of the ICGLR, to enable women to be at the same level of understanding and to advocate with decision-makers in their respective countries for the cause of women's political participation as well as the consideration of their contribution to the promotion of peace and security, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1325.
Finally, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General expressed her satisfaction that this advocacy mission is taking place at a key moment when MONUSCO is actively working to fight against hate speech that fuels conflicts.