World March of Women and the Closing Event of the Third Action in DRC October 2010

The third international action of the World March of Women (WMW) began on March 8, 2010. Since that date, national actions have been held in 52 countries, directly involving more than 38,000 women who have built national platforms around four action areas: women’s economic autonomy, common good and public services, violence against women, and peace and demilitarization. In Pakistan, women came out on the streets, even after fundamentalists had exploded bombs to terrify the population. In Mali, women debated on peace-building and demonstrated in Gao, an area of armed conflict. In Greece, they held demonstrations against the persistence of high military expenditures during the financial crisis – at a time when other public spending is being cut, denouncing the lack of public policy in response to increasing unemployment levels (already high among women). In Brazil, more than 2,000 women marched for 10 days under the banner: “Women on the march until we are all free.”

Over the course of 2010, three regional actions were organized, leading to debates and public demonstrations. In Asia, women from 10 countries met in Manila, Philippines, and demonstrated against the intervention, control and military presence of the United States in Southeast Asia. In Europe, women from 23 countries came together in Istanbul, Turkey, and proclaimed their demands under the slogan, “Women, Peace, Freedom.” In the Americas, the WMW joined together with the Women’s Social Movement against War and for Peace and other people’s movements to raise awareness and to denounce the reality of the Colombian conflict and to protest in front of the Palenquero Military Base in Colombia, one of seven bases where the United States wants to set up operations in the interest of gaining geopolitical control of the region.

This different inspiring processes will come to a close in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It was our decision to take action there, first as an expression of our solidarity with the women who resist day to day in a context of armed conflict, particularly women in Eastern DRC. But we are also traveling to Bukavu to continue our discussions and to reassert our ongoing denunciation of the growing militarization of the world: increasing militarization is a tool that bolsters the patriarchy in its ties to capitalism and racism.[1] During our action, we have come across numerous examples of the ways in which these ties are bound. In Korea, US military bases are surrounded by houses of prostitution, particularly involving migrant women from the Philippines and Russia. The bodies of women are used for the pleasure of the “visitors,” who maintain a position of authority and control over the local populations. In Colombia, the paramilitaries and the army fuel teenage girls’ illusion of being protected by a lover in uniform, to extract information or simply to have someone to prepare their meals. In Turkey, nationalists treat those who refuse military service as enemies by threatening to rape their mothers. Recognizing the links between economic exploitation, racist and sexist violence, which affect the lives of millions of women around the world, as illustrated by these examples, is the fundamental basis for identifying direct alternatives.

The DRC is home to a number of local women’s organizations. However, dialogue between them is complicated: the country is vast, face-to-face meetings are very costly, and the problems are many. These problems are consequence of armed conflicts, which have multiple repercussions on society, creating tensions and serious violation of human rights. The women’s movement is not exempt from these issues. 

The women of the DRC have proposals for their country, rooted in their daily struggles. Our aim is to strengthen them so that their work may come to fruition, ensuring a life of justice, liberty and equality for women and for the entire population. One of the expected results of our closing action in Bukavu is the gathering of women from the different provinces of the DRC, to dialogue on the subject of a platform of their national demands. The women of the DRC will meet to find ways of working together and to build a National Coordinating Body of the WMW as permanent movement.

The conflicts in the DRC cannot be resolved without taking account of its neighboring countries. We are confident that the joint work of women’s organizations in the countries of the Great Lakes Region of Africa will create a solid basis for dialogue and for unity among the peoples of the region. Following the WMW’s International Action in 2000, five coalitions of women’s groups in Burundi, the DRC (North and South Kivu) and Rwanda decided to work together for peace in the Great Lakes Region, via the involvement of women. Thus was born COCAFEM-GL (Collective of Associations working for the Promotion of Women in the Great Lakes Region of Africa). In 2000, they adopted a shared platform to demand: 

  • “The recognition of women as partners in the pursuit of peace in the sub-region of the Great Lakes of Africa;
  • “The establishment of mechanisms to identify arms marketing networks, and to prevent and put an end to the conflicts ravaging the sub-region of the Great Lakes of Africa;
  • “That countries which hide behind economic interests in order to lay waste to the sub-region of the Great Lakes of Africa be told ‘Enough!’;
  •  “The establishment of appropriate mechanisms to condemn and punish all crimes committed in the sub-region of the Great Lakes of Africa;
  • “The adoption of debt cancellation measures for socioeconomic rehabilitation programs in the countries of the sub-region of the Great Lakes of Africa, without the imposition of additional conditions;
  • “A revision of national and international legislation and the development of enforcing mechanisms, with the aim of eliminating all gender-based inequality;
  • “Consideration of AIDS prevention as the top priority in the sub-region of the Great Lakes of Africa.”

This platform can be used as a starting point and a reference for women from other countries. We hope that our action will also be an occasion for meetings between women from the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi, as well as from the Central African Republic, Uganda and Kenya, where a new National Coordinating Body of the WMW is already very active and engaged on the side of the poorest women. 

In Bukavu, we will also be exchanging experiences among women living in other countries and struggling against different forms of militarization. This will be an opportune time to engage in more in-depth analyses, taking as a starting point the demands and commitments that we defined for our four action areas, particularly on the topic of peace and demilitarization, during the 7th International Meeting of the WMW (see appendix).

The following analysis is both a view from outside and the expression of the lessons that we, the activists of the WMW, are learning in sharing struggles and debates with our Congolese sisters. This text was developed to nourish our debates in Bukavu and elsewhere, particularly in countries where simultaneous actions of solidarity will be taking place on October 17, 2010.

The text explains the WMW’s vision at the international level and is no substitute for the development of a national platform in the DRC, nor for updates of the platform of the women of the Great Lakes Region. It focuses on three key issues: preventing and fighting violence against women, the gradual withdrawal of Monusco troops and the role of the Congolese army, and the self-determination of the Congolese people with respect to the use of the natural resources of their territory. It is supplemented by the appended text prepared by the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM), one of the WMW’s allied organizations, on the issue of ending debt in the DRC.

Violence against women

Sexual violence has become so widespread during the conflict in the DRC that violence against women has even labeled one of the characteristic features of this war. Massive gang rapes of women and young girls have been reported in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Liberia, the Balkans, Uganda and Sudan. But in the DRC, gang rape is used systematically and by all of the armed players, as a weapon of war.

As is always the case with sexual violence, it is very difficult to report on testimonies given, and the data are invariably underestimated. The United Nations reported 27,000 cases of rape in the DRC in 2006. The International Rescue Committee recorded 40,000 rapes in the province of South Kivu between 2003 and 2008. More recently, reports on a single attack in the territory of Walikale, North Kivu, on the night of July 30, estimate that more than 300 women were raped, some of them more than once.

A study of women treated at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu paints a picture of the sexual violence taking place in South Kivu[2]. These are women of all ages and all ethnic groups, mostly from rural areas. The majority of the rapes were perpetrated by men in uniform, in gang rape situations, near or even inside the homes of the victims, at night.

The attackers come to pillage, and rape the women to subjugate the  communities so they do not react or report them. Another purpose of rape is to disorganize community life, to force communities to displace or to agree to work under slave-labor conditions.

The reported attacks are frightening: insertion of foreign objects in the woman’s vagina is a common practice, such as firearms shot off inside the woman’s body. Fathers are forced to rape their daughters; brothers are forced to rape their sisters. Young women are kidnapped and used as sex slaves until the community pays for their release.

Women arrive at Panzi Hospital after having contacted NGOs or women’s organizations. Among the women admitted to the hospital, 37.4% requested support three years after having been victims of violence. A number of them are there because they require genital or pelvic reconstruction. Stigmatization of raped women is very strong, either by their communities or by their own husbands, who then abandon them for fear of retaliation.

The study also shows a sharp rise in rape by civilians; this demonstrates how sexual violence against women has become commonplace.

A number of women’s groups and NGOs are working to prevent violence against women. The South Kivu Provincial Commission to Prevent Sexual Violence (CPLVS) brings together 155 local NGOs and more than 10 international NGOs that support this work. According to one of the women receiving their support, “the benefactors provide aid in multiple forms: to boost our morale, to facilitate economic activity once we have returned to our communities, to pay for medical treatment for sick women who have been raped, and to support the legal case of victims who lodge a complaint.”[3]  But their efforts are insufficient in the face of the scale of the problem. Panzi Hospital, for example, has 334 beds, including 200 for cases of sexual violence – and is prepared to admit 10-12 new cases each day. However, the actual demand is much higher. Other general hospitals receive no support, despite their closer proximity to victims and their ability to provide these women with treatment within 72 hours of an attack. 

Resources must be substantially increased at all levels – from contact with the women in their communities to first conversations with specialized professionals in maisons d’écoute et d’alerte (specialized support and alert centers) and at medical centers. The services performed by women’s organizations in the region of South Kivu and in the DRC should be reinforced, and the work of INGOs has to be strongly rooted on the needs of local organizations. In addition, services provided by the Congolese State must be created and strengthened, taking into account the experience and the work of women’s groups on the ground.

Aid for women suffering from violence must be provided in such a way that they are not seen simply as the passive recipients, but as active protagonists of their own lives. As largely as possible, women should not be limited to the role of the victim in situations of armed conflict. On the contrary, they should become collective actresses for social change, so that they can all live free from all forms of violence.

Organizations from regions in conflict – including the Great Lakes Region – are actively working to promote Resolution 1325, adopted by the United Nations Security Council in 2000, on the role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building[4]. Clause 10 “calls on all parties in armed conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, and all other forms of violence in situations of armed conflict.” A WMW collective in Gaspésie, Quebec, proposed a campaign to make enforcement of Clause 10 of Resolution 1325 legally binding, with associated deadlines[5].

All of this work is both necessary and important. However, we must bear in mind that, although the Security Council has adopted six resolutions (between 2000 and 2009) on the participation of women in conflict resolution and the prevention of the violence that they endure (Resolutions 1325, 1612, 1674, 1820, 1882 and 1888), armed conflicts persist, with great losses of human life and tremendous suffering among the civilian populations, including sexual violence against women, reducing them to impoverishment and exile.

An interpretation that limits women’s participation in conflict resolution to a simple increase in the number of women in United Nations military missions must be avoided. Today, women account for 8% of participants in UN peacekeeping operations, with the goal of attaining 20% by 2014. Images of women in blue berets are now part of the latest information campaigns concerning the participation of women in conflict resolution, published on the websites of multilateral organizations.

Unfortunately, there is no direct link between the United Nations resolutions and the reduction of the number of conflicts or of the loss of human life that they cause. Despite this fact, it is not uncommon to hear statements that armed combatants kidnap and rape because they are unaware of the United Nations treaties and resolutions that hold such actions to be serious crimes.

At the intergovernmental level, documents, agreements and projects, recognize the need for human and financial resources (as direct support to the population), particularly when offensive actions are being launched. These resources are, however, residual, secondary to bolstering military action to disarm rebel groups. Our objective is to prevent violence. What warning and intelligence systems should be established to monitor the movements of rebel groups and to prevent their unexpected arrival in the different communities? The population has its own systems, such as sleeping in the bush at the times of worst conflict. The experience of the NGOs and the women’s groups working on the ground, in direct contact with women in their communities, is essential to the creation of such a warning system. The experiences of other countries can also be looked at, to suggest what may or may not be successful in preventing massive rapes. In Colombia, for example, an Early Warning System was created to provide organized, local information and to better initiate rapid preventive responses and protect communities in situations of armed conflict. On the one hand, this type of mechanism shows the importance of the participation of grassroots networks and local organizations in the prevention of violence. On the other, this type of initiative may also be in vain, if the information thus obtained is used for strictly military purposes.

Disarmament, sovereignty and lasting peace: the role of Monusco and of the national army (FADRC).

Based on the testimonials of women and their assessments of conflicts and peace efforts affecting their own lives, we have defined a critical reexamination of the presence of UN peacekeeping forces in conflict situations as one of the aims of our action. This critique takes account of the ineffectiveness of this military presence at achieving peace and underscores the impunity enjoyed by the United Nations forces when they themselves perpetrate violence against women.

The WMW is present in 9 countries where United Nations Stabilization Missions are currently taking place (there are WMW National Coordinating Bodies in Haiti, Western Sahara, the Ivory Coast, the DRC, Sudan, Cyprus, India/Pakistan and, most recently, a contact group in Afghanistan). Our sisters in Haiti, in particular, have launched ongoing critical discussions of the presence of UN troops (MINUSTAH), which they identify as a force of occupation.

In the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during a workshop in October 2009, in preparation for our action in Bukavu, we formulated the goal of the actions of the WMW regarding the conflict: for the Democratic Republic of the Congo to experience lasting peace, beginning with the demilitarization of Eastern DRC and the gradual and concerted disengagement of the Monusco (former Monuc).

The Monuc (United Nations Mission in the Congo) established its presence in the country in 2000. Conflict in the region persists, as does the use of violence against women as a weapon of war. The Mission’s budget for the period from July 1st, 2009, to June 30, 2010, was US$1.35 billion, nearly as much as the budget of the government of the DRC (approximately US$1.8 billion in 2009). Its presence has also affected the local economy, with the specific effects of distorting salaries in US$ and degrading public roads by the intensive circulation of large vehicles. Not to mention the fact that most expenditure, such as those for fuel, are made in Uganda, Monuc’s logistical center, and that the Monuc funding is managed by external financial institutions.

The government of the DRC requested that withdrawal of Monuc be completed in the year commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the country’s independence. The result of the negotiations was an agreement on the reduction in the troops by 2000 soldiers and the creation of a new mission, Monusco – an acronym which now incorporates the word “stabilization” – which formally recognizes the role of the national government and the country’s sovereignty. The annual budget has not decreased. The approved budget for July 1st, 2010, to June 30, 2011, is US$1.369 billion. This new mission is to include a maximum of 17,745 military personnel, 760 military observers, 391 police staff and 1,050 members of police units including judicial and penitentiary staff, in addition to civilian personnel[6].

Our sisters in the Congo consider that the withdrawal of the United Nations forces cannot take place without the reinforcement of the Congolese national army. This is a complex issue: there are varying opinions held by the different groups participating in the World March of Women regarding the role of national armies. Our shared text on peace and demilitarization asserts that “the military institution contributes in various ways to the training of young men to occupy the dominant position in society (in the hierarchy of social relationships between the sexes).” We consider the army to be one of the most patriarchal organizations in all societies, and one of those in which the inequalities that characterize relations between men and women are most flagrant: hierarchy, domination, and the cult of the power of the “leader,” obedience, physical violence, lack of critical thought, exclusive male circles, etc.

Nevertheless, the analyses performed by women’s groups in the DRC have concluded that the Republic of Congo needs to complete the integration of the different existing military factions into a national army of professionals, provided with the necessary resources to protect the country and to preserve national sovereignty. The problem raised by our Congolese sisters is not only specific to the political context in the DRC. Questions about the creation and reinforcement of national armies, or even the problems entailed in the hypothesis of its dissolution, are all tied to issues of territoriality and sovereignty. In Haiti, for example, there are women’s groups that assert that President Aristide’s dissolution of the army was a problematic decision. In the matter of international and geopolitical interests occupying their land, the presence of foreign military troops continues, partially justified in the eyes of international public opinion by the absence of a Haitian national army.

Amongst us, activists of the WMW, our commitment is to support the work of Congolese women to obtain a better organization of the national army – with remuneration of the troops, transparency, accountability and punishment in the case of commission of acts of violence, to struggle to prevent the use of violence against women as a weapon of war and as a commonplace practice in society – as well as against the militarization of civilian life. Under their proposal, the army would not be involved in education, health, social and humanitarian aid, or mining, which should be provided by civilians.

The money spent by the Monusco should remain within the country, not just to equip the army, but also to provide public services such as education and healthcare, and the creation of infrastructures, communications and transportation.

Channels for negotiations, integration and reconciliation must remain open at all times, particularly with neighboring countries. At the borders, the different peoples are constantly involved in cultural and economic exchanges, and even emotional bonds. Dialogue, justice, and the existence of material conditions necessary for a decent life, are the basis for stable security.

Nature: the common good of the people

The Congo is a very rich country. For example, it has reserves of gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt and coltan (combination of colombite and tantalite). Refined coltan is a high-performance electrical conductor used in cellular telephones, laptop computers and other electronic equipment. The Congo possesses 64% of the global reserves in coltan, with mines concentrated in the Kivu Region.

58.9% of the DRC’s territory is covered by the second largest tropical forest in the world, the Congo Basin Forest. The State owns 80% of the forest, which is the main source of subsistence (food, energy, shelter and medicine) for more than 60% of the population. The Congo is also rich in drinking water.

Oil revenue accounted for 8% of the total revenue in the 2009 budget. During the first half of 2010, oil revenue has already exceeded the total for 2009, thanks to the increase in the price per barrel. In the fields of mining and hydrocarbons, the revenue collected, including bonuses and holdings, totaled 10% of total revenue. Project funding provided another 18%.

The international and local press cites the greed of all other countries for the Congo’s riches, which has been a source of conflict and suffering for the Congolese people living in conditions of destitution. This greed was the key feature in the history of the country’s colonization by Belgium and in its relations with the United States during the Cold War. At the time of the fiftieth anniversary of its independence, debt has become the new form of colonialism.

The agreement concluded between the DRC and China in 2008 provides for copper and cobalt mining concessions and the investment of the necessary resources in mines and infrastructures, in exchange for a total of US$9 billion. The IMF pressured the Congolese government to revise this agreement, asserting that its stipulations would serve to increase the country’s level of debt. Apparently, the operation was to reduce risks for Northern creditors; nothing was said about the people’s rights to public services, sacrificed in the name of debt repayment. In 2009, when the economic crisis was ravaging the world, the DRC paid $170 million in interest on the illegitimate debt contracted by its former dictator, Mobutu. The 2009 revision of the agreement decreased the amount China’s investments, but retained the concession for the extraction of 10 million tons of copper and 600,000 tons of cobalt, as initially stipulated.

It was precisely at the time of these negotiations that European (particularly German and British) and US governments and companies, along with multilateral bodies such as the OECD, intensified debates and initiatives on the subject of transparency in the exploitation and trade of natural resources.

These initiatives took the form of mechanisms designed to trace the origins of minerals, to certify them as not involving any armed groups and as being produced under minimum working conditions and with minimal environmental impact. Control of the mining production chain is one of the main sources of funding for armed players, via their direct exploitation of mines, recovery of a percentage from workers and small-scale miners through transportation, and informal tolls charged on arms-controlled roads. Estimates show that armed groups gathered revenue of more than US$180 million in 2009, thanks to the mining trade. In the DRC in 2008, for every 5,000 kg of gold produced, only 122.5 kg were exported legally.

The initiatives of Northern countries and companies have been developed with varying degrees of interaction with the Congolese government and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)[7], a permanent body focusing on integration and the promotion of peace, working in partnership with the United Nations, the African Union and other States.

In the United States, liberal NGOs like the Center for American Progress, the Enough Project and the feminist group V-Day have exerted substantial pressure for the development of a regulation guaranteeing “conflict-free” mineral products.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010, includes an amendment on minerals and the conflict in Congo. Beginning in 2011, companies will need to state whether or not they use conflict minerals and, if so, in the case of minerals from the DRC, they will need to set out the measures that they have taken to ensure that the minerals are produced legally, without the interference of armed groups. To this end, USAID has assumed responsibility for developing a strategy for addressing the relationship between armed groups, conflict minerals and human rights.

The Congolese State’s capacity to respond to these initiatives and pressures, and its need to assert its territorial integrity, are at the heart of the issue. On September 13th, 2010, following the announcement by President Joseph Kabila during his visit to Goma, the Minister of Mines announced the suspension of concessions for all mining activities in North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema.

In turn, the NGOs asked companies to comply with a new system: the trace-audit-certify process, which requires that companies be capable of tracing the source and routing of the minerals that they use and of certifying that a credible, independent verification has taken place, so as to provide consumers with access to electronic items that are not the products of armed conflict.

But the fact of a verification system being external in no way ensures that it will be accurate and reliable. Around the world, USAID is known as a tool of US imperialism. Nor the mining transnationals that perform these verifications on the ground are models of transparency or respect for human rights. The Congolese people – particularly women, who suffer the harshest consequences of war and violence, aggravated by the exploitation of natural riches – would be far more capable of assessing the mineral production process in the DRC. Congolese women are the ones who should be talking about the issues surrounding the presence of armed groups and foreign companies in these activities and who should measure the environmental and social impact of this phenomenon. But or women’s experiences and proposals cannot fit in the accounting forms of major companies.

Certification has become also a problem in terms of ensuring the DRC people’s access to the forest, since the launch of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) ongoing projects. REDD mechanisms are based on the absurd idea that trading “pollution rights” could offset the model of consumption and waste practiced by the countries of the North. Even if, at the outset, it is supposed that these projects will be financed by public resources and the World Bank, a financial structure is being created for future carbon markets, based on the transformation of forests into commodities. The objective of this policy is not to resolve the problem of climate change, but rather to manage environmental disaster such as to optimize the profits of international investors.

Furthermore, private forest reserve projects are likely to aggravate forced displacements, violations of the rights of native peoples, and the barring of the people’s access to the forests. For example, the Pygmies of the Ituri Forest, in Northeastern Congo, are now struggling against their displacement by the savage exploitation of the woods and by the planting of cacao in areas where they have been the first inhabitants. The forests in which the native peoples have developed their way of life and their knowledge are under threat of becoming environmental commodities on an international market fed by REDD policies.

Land grabbing by foreign investors is growing, as a result of major projects to establish African palm plantations for the production of biofuel. Chinese and Italian companies have already announced plans for enormous plantations covering 70,000 to 1 million hectares.

For further discussion

The reality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is far more complex than can possibly be indicated in a text written by women living in other parts of the world. However, we believe that an outside perspective can be useful, as this viewpoint is impregnated with our own life experiences and struggles, which have many similarities with those of our sisters in the Congo – because patriarchy, capitalism and racism remain hegemonic systems around the world today.

We must act on the root causes of violence against women. We believe this will first require the resolution of armed conflict and a transition to the use of natural riches by the people.

Women’s groups in the DRC, non-profit associations, NGOs and grassroots groups are working hard to support women who are the victims of violence and to fight against perpetrators’ impunity. As many of various social movements active in the Congo, they have proposals for their country to advance in this direction. We hope that our time in Bukavu will be marked by solidarity with women and with all those, women and men alike, fighting to free all territories and all people from oppression and violence, for the establishment of justice and peace.

Appendix: Demands and commitments of the WMW concerning peace and demilitarization

In struggling against militarization, we demand:

  • The reduction of military expenses, i.e. the reduction of public budgets used for the purchase of arms and installation of military bases, maintenance of armies and their infrastructures;  The end of incentives for the fabrication and commerce of arms;
  • The immediate scrapping of foreign military base agreements;
  • The withdrawal of troops in countries where conflict has ceased or where military agreements have come to an end;
  • The end to the criminalization of protest, social movements, poverty and immigration, justified through the ideological manipulation of the fight against terrorism and in favor of national security, in order to legitimize the use of war and of terror itself to control women, peoples and natural resources;
  • The punishment of the perpetrators of violence against women in situations of conflict (armies, paramilitary forces, guerrilla groups, the UN’s blue berets, as well as husbands or relatives);
  • The participation of women (with an equal importance to that of men) in conflict prevention and management, peacekeeping and post-conflict construction processes.

And we commit ourselves to:

  • Denounce the role of the arms industry in the continuation of conflicts and militarization and in the manipulation of government policies to this end, as well as governments and transnational companies who profit economically from conflict (control of natural resources – oil, water, minerals, among others) on their own territory or on others’ territories;
  • Carry out a wide process of popular education to educate women around themes such as military base agreements, the natural resources of territories / countries, economic and political reasons for conflict, the participation of countries that support or produce wars, and the arms industry, etc. Also to prepare women to contribute to breaking the code of silence around sexual and other forms of violence in conflict zones; 
  • Disseminate the reality of countries and regions in conflict, including ‘hidden’ conflicts around the world, and the extreme double violence (rape and rejection) suffered by women in these situations by disseminating textual and audiovisual information (as films, photos and audios) and organizing events and other activities, with the objective of the WMW acting as an Alert / Solidarity Network that is able to deepen reflection and motivate urgent actions alongside and in support of those caught up in the conflict; 
  • To critically re-examine the presence of UN ‘peacekeeping’ forces in situations of conflict – based on the testimonies of women victims and peace protagonists – in the light of their passivity, inefficiency in bringing about peace and the impunity they enjoy as perpetrators of violence against women.

[1]           Further information is available on the World March of Women website:

[2]           Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Oxfam International: “Now, the World is without Me”: An Investigation of Sexual Violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Mimeo, April 2010.

[3]           Thaddée Hyawe-Hinyi: Sud-Kivu: les femmes violées rapportent gros aux Ong. Grands Lacs Agence de Presse (, French only).

[4]           Online access:

[5]          “Bâtir un monde de paix,” available on (French only).

[6]          Information available on:

[7]           The Member States of the ICGLR are: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

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