Shabunda: UN finances Community Radio and Women's Center to raise awareness against gender-based violence

Shabunda: UN finances Community Radio and Women's Center to raise awareness against gender-based violence . Photo Monusco/ Mathilde Mihigo

19 Jul 2022

Shabunda: UN finances Community Radio and Women's Center to raise awareness against gender-based violence

Carine TOPE

With  funding of US$1,500,000 from the United Nations Secretary-General's Peacebuilding Fund, a community radio station and the Women's House have been set up in Kigulube, in the territory of Shabunda, South Kivu, as part of the WOSH-Women of Shabunda project.

The project was implemented by the MONUSCO'S Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The official handover of the Women's House, the radio and the computer kit by UNESCO took place on July 1, 2022, in the presence of local authorities, the advisor to the provincial Minister of the Interior, the advisor to the General Commissioner for Gender, the head of the provincial gender division and the local population.

A radio station to fight against violence against women

The installation of the community radio aims primarily at sensitizing the population to non-violent communication, which is a source of peace and peaceful coexistence.

 "Through this mass media tool, the United Nations seeks to enable women to denounce all forms of violence and violations against them in this area of the DRC, which is plagued by insecurity," said Mathilde Mihigo, UNJHRO representative in Bukavu, who attended the inaugural ceremony.

The community radio of Shabunda also has the role of building peace through Communication for Behavioral Change, and promoting the rights of women of Shabunda, specifically those of Kigulube, in South Kivu.

Mathilde Mihigo stressed that the UNJHRO encourages "women to take ownership of this radio and address deep issues of rights that concern them for their development".

A radio for the change of mindsets  

The journalists working at this radio are unanimous. The advent of this radio will certainly bring a change in mentalities thanks to the sensitization of the population, as well as a personal change for each of them.  

Testimony of Benjamin Mpago

By sensitizing the population on the change of mentalities, we must make it our duty to be actors of change of mentalities. In talking about non-violence, we must first of all be actors who preach by example. We are therefore called to live constantly in positive change.

Since June 30, the Kigulube women's community radio station has been broadcasting on FM 88.0.

On June 30, the day of the official launch, a series of animation sessions were conducted to test the quality and range of coverage. To the west of Kigulube, the radio broadcasts as far as 250 km and reaches some villages in Maniema, while to the north, south and east, it reaches out more than 100 km to the territories of Kabare, Kalehe, Walungu and Uvira, in the city of Bukavu.  

 The population, the first beneficiary of this project, welcomes this initiative of the United Nations in the region.  

A hardware kit (computer, printer and photocopier, some supplies) was given to the management committee of the Women's Center in which the community radio is housed. 

After the inauguration ceremony, interactive programs with the population were launched.

The host called on women to break their silence and denounce all cases of violence and violations against them.

"This radio is a tool that will allow us to free our tongues and denounce all forms of violence. The perpetrators will only have themselves to blame," said one of the women who came to participate in the official launch of the Shabunda community radio signal.

The Women's Center to popularize legal texts

The Joint United Nations Office for Human Rights has equipped the Women's Center with a "human rights" library.

Women were strongly encouraged to consult the manuals to learn about the legal texts on sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence. This Center also has the role of referral of victims.

Women's groups have been set up to work at the women's center, including women's mining cooperatives and women vectors of change.

The IOM will support women in the area of mining governance on the mining sites in Shabunda, UNESCO will work on Communication for Behavior Change (CBC) and the UNJHRO will work on the promotion of women's rights and the fight against all forms of violence.

The head of the division in charge of Gender, Family and Children in Shabunda welcomes the installation of the Women's Center in this landlocked territory of the DRC.  Ms. Kumingi Nigo maintains that this center will allow the provincial government of South Kivu to have a reliable database of cases of violence and to pool efforts in the fight against sexual violence.

The women's center has three branches:

The women's club, which focuses on awareness raising and education on women's rights;

The consultation framework responsible for monitoring sexual violence, getting closer to rape survivors, and directing them to the appropriate care institutions;

The women's rights club, which will be in charge of raising awareness about women's rights.

Ms. Kumingi Nigo indicated that Shabunda territory has recorded several cases of rape and gender-based violence. From January 2020 to September 2021, the division recorded 804 cases of rape.

From October 2021 to date, 65 cases of women survivors of rape have been reported.