Woman and men, let’s progress together

Violence against girls and women, as well as boys and men, is a pervasive human rights problem in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Violence occurs in conflict and non-conflict zones. Abuse, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, domestic violence, child marriage, and harmful traditional practices occur in schools, homes, workplaces, and in public spaces across the country.

In order to combat Gender Violence and Abuse and promote more harmonious relations between women and men, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo launched the pilot initiative “Women and men, let’s Progress together” in the provinces of Kinshasa, Maniema, and the former Province of Bandundu. The program is supported by the European Union, in partnership with thepUnited Nations Children’s Fund which co-funds the program and the German Cooperation (GIZ).

In 2016, participatory theater and media campaigns raised awareness among 70,000 adults and 31,000 children of sexual and gender based violence and 27,000 households benefited from microcredits or inclusive financing. The program also allowed for the support of 1,500 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

The program “Women and men, let’s progress together” has made significant progress on gender and equality issues with the adoption and promulgation of amendments to the Congolese Family Code. It establishes for children the prohibition of minors’ marriage, and for the gender issues, the substitution of marital authorization with the consultation between spouses.

43%

of women are married before 18 years of age

27%

of girls aged 15-19 are or have already been pregnant

Nkeyi Bampumbudia (right), Ovaselle Monkango (left), 6th grade students, and president and vice-president of the Mambote school in the city of Bandundu, capital of Kwilu province. They are hosting a club meeting promoting equality between girls and boys at school, fostering good cohabitation, and encouraging students to educate their families and peers on gender issues.
Laurette Lheke Shito, Deputy Mayor, handed a marriage certificate to Charline Tayeye and Gabriel Kasuta during a civil marriage ceremony in the Mayoyo commune in Bandundu city, the capital of Kwilu province.
Shigo Lusanga and Victoire Ngayaka, community leaders, sensitizing a couple on tasks sharing, marriage registration, and against child marriage, in Bagata, a small town in Kwilu province.
Innocent Mutempa, 53, and his wife, Wyvine, 45, are stripping cassava stalks in Bonkulu, Kwilu province.
Chantal Kidiata, president of the association “Ma Famille” (My Family), poses in her stationer’s shop in Kenge, in the province of Bandundu. She was able to develop her business thanks to the micro-credit program of “Women and men, Let’s Progress Together”.
Actors from the village of Sampiere, in the province of Kwilu, perform on the theme of child marriage.
The “Mfumu Nkento” (woman chief) Anoy Ngolor of the Bukuyi group in Bagata territory in Kwilu province is committed to gender equality and against early marriages in her jurisdiction. “Here, many girls die as a result of a difficult childbirth. Their parents are then accused of witchcraft. Yet the truth is that the body of a 13-year-old girl can hardly bear a pregnancy. This made me very unhappy and I have had early marriages forbidden in my jurisdiction. I have also appointed women, as chief of locality or as deputy, in all the groups that make up my territory, in order to enforce this measure”.
Janette Bibey and her husband Mpwate Maskane live in the village of Bonkulu. “Despite criticism from our neighbors, who almost all married their daughters very young, we decided to cancel the marriage of our 13-year-old youngest daughter, and wait for her 18th birthday before accepting new solicitations. We feared for her health. Here, in our area, early pregnancies often lead to caesarean sections and sometimes fatal complications”.

LE PHOTOGRAPHE

Gwenn Dubourthoumieu

Gwenn Dubourthoumieu

Gwenn Dubourthoumieu became interested in photography while working in Africa for humanitarian NGOs. Professional since 2010, he made series of photographs illustrating the work of UNICEF in the DRC.

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This post is also available in: French