|Gender Inequality Index|
|Maternal mortality (per 100,000)||540 (2010)|
|Women in parliament||8.2% (2012)|
|Females over 25 with secondary education||10.7% (2010)|
|Women in labour force||70.2% (2011)|
|Global Gender Gap Index|
|Rank||144th out of 149|
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|Women in society|
Women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have not attained a position of full equality with men, with their struggle continuing to this day. Although the Mobutu regime paid lip service to the important role of women in society, and although women enjoy some legal rights (e.g., the right to own property and the right to participate in the economic and political sectors), custom and legal constraints still limit their opportunities.
The inferiority of women has always been embedded in the indigenous social system and reemphasized in the colonial era. The colonial-era status of African women in urban areas was low. Adult women were legitimate urban dwellers if they were wives, widows, or elderly. Otherwise they were presumed to be femmes libres (free women) and were taxed as income-earning prostitutes, whether they were or not. From 1939 to 1943, over 30% of adult Congolese women in Stanleyville (now Kisangani) were so registered. The taxes they paid constituted the second largest source of tax revenue for Stanleyville.
The war situation has made the life of women more precarious. Violence against women seems to be perceived by large sectors of society to be normal.In July 2007, the International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concern about the situation in eastern DRC.
A phenomenon of 'pendulum displacement' has developed, where people hasten at night to safety. According to Yakin Ertürk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women who toured eastern Congo in July 2007, violence against women in North and South Kivu included “unimaginable brutality”. "Armed groups attack local communities, loot, rape, kidnap women and children and make them work as sexual slaves," Ertürk said.A local initiative by women in Bukavu aims for recovery from violence based on women's own empowerment.
In December 2008 GuardianFilms posted a film on the Guardian newspaper website profiling a project to record the testimony of over 400 women and girls who had been abused by marauding militia.
Besides war rape in Congo's civil wars, there are other serious threats to women's physical well-being in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Female genital mutilation (FGM), while not widespread, exists among some populations in northern parts of the DRC. The prevalence of FGM is estimated at about 5% of women in the DRC.FGM is now illegal: the law imposes a penalty of two to five years of prison and a fine of 200,000 Congolese francs on any person who violates the "physical or functional integrity" of the genital organs.
Maternal mortality rates are high, as access to maternal healthcare is limited.Additionally, a woman can only use contraceptives with the permission of her husband, rendering her unable to prevent herself from contracting AIDS from him.
Women are disproportionally impacted by HIV in the DRC: of the 390,000 adults infected with HIV 71.79% are women. The rate of new HIV infections among women ages 15-24 was four-times higher than that of men in the same demographic. Women are also less likely to have access to treatment than men. 73% of adult men living with HIV are on treatment, compared to 58% of adult women.
Under the penal code of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) abortion is prohibited, but it is generally accepted that an abortion can be performed to save a women's life. However, access to safe abortion in the DRC is extremely limited and women are rarely able to access reliable medical procedures.The DRC is a signatory to the Maputo Protocol which directs states to legalize abortion in cases where a woman's physical and mental health is at jeopardy or in cases of rape, incest, and fetal anomaly. The Congolese government ratified the Maputo Protocol in March 2018, and due to the nature of the country's legal system, this expanded the categories of legal abortion in compliance with the Maputo Protocol.
Thirty seven percent of girls in the DRC were married off before the age of 18 in 2017. 10% are married before they turn 15.
The DRC is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor and forced prostitution. The majority of this trafficking is internal, and much of it is perpetrated by armed groups and government forces outside government control within the DRC's unstable eastern provinces.
Food insecurity and extreme poverty are now the main reasons why women in the DRC become prostitutes.Traders make up the majority of clients, along with officials working for national and international NGOs. Many sex workers earn between $2 and $5 and payment is sometimes made in the form of food or other goods. Prostitutes working in bars and nightclubs receive between $10 and $20, and are known as "Londoners" as they dress like British girls on a Saturday night out. "VIP prostitution" operates from hotels, with sex workers earning between $50 and $100. Many Congolese prostitutes are from abroad or homeless children who have been accused of witchcraft.
“There were food taboos which restrict women from eating certain foods (usually the most desirable) since ‘they are not the equals of men.’ Women may not eat in the presence of other men, and they are often allowed only their husband's leftovers.”
Opportunities for wage labor jobs and professional positions remained rare even after independence.For example, in Kisangani there were no women in law, medicine, or government in 1979, nineteen years after independence. Moreover, educational opportunities for girls remained constricted compared with those for boys.
By the 1990s, women had made strides in the professional world, and a growing number of women now work in the professions, government service, the military, and the universities. But they remain underrepresented in the formal work force, especially in higher-level jobs, and generally earn less than their male counterparts in the same jobs.
In addition, certain laws clearly state that women are legally subservient to men. A married woman must have her husband's permission to open a bank account, accept a job, obtain a commercial license, or rent or sell real estate. Article 45 of the civil code specifies that the husband has rights to his wife's goods, even if their marriage contract states that each spouse separately owns his or her own goods.Women have to get the approval of their husband before getting any sort of job offer.
Adapting to this situation, urban women have exploited commercial opportunities in the informal economy, outside of men's control. They generally conduct business without bank accounts, without accounting records, and without reporting all of their commerce. Anthropologist Janet MacGaffey's study of enterprises in Kisangani showed that 28 percent of the city's large business owners not dependent on political connections were women; these women specialized in long-distance distribution and retail and semi-wholesale trade. About 21 percent of the retail stores in the commercial and administrative zone of the city were women's, and women dominated the market trade.
Rural women find fewer such strategies available. Saddled with the bulk of agricultural work, firewood gathering, water hauling, and child care, they have generally seen an increase in their labor burdens as the economy has deteriorated. In the DRC's eastern highlands, conditions have grown particularly severe. The state promoted expansion of cash crop hectarage for export, particularly of coffee and quinine, has reduced the amount and quality of land available for peasant household food-crop production.
Plantations owned by the politico-commercial and new commercial elites have increasingly expanded onto communal lands, displacing existing food crops with cash crops. Within peasant households, men's control of the allocation of household land for export and food crops has led to greater use of land for export crops, and the diminution of women's access to land and food crops.
Even when male producers turn to cultivating food crops, the household does not necessarily profit nutritionally. Food needed for household consumption is frequently sold for cash, cash needed to pay for daily necessities, clothes, school fees, taxes, and so on. Higher-priced and nutritionally superior food crops such as sorghum are frequently sold by producers who eat only their cheaper, less nutritious food crops such as cassava. Widespread malnutrition among children has resulted.
Among groups where women have more power, the situation is less severe. Among the Lemba, for example, women not only have more say in determining what is grown but also in what is consumed. In a country where the most widespread pattern is for the men to be served the best food first, with the remainder going to women and children, Lemba women traditionally set aside choice food items and sauces for their own and their children's consumption before feeding the men their food. Their nutritional status and that of their children is correspondingly better.
Rural women have arguably borne the brunt of state exactions. In some cases, women have banded together to resist the rising tolls and taxes imposed on them. Political scientist Katharine Newbury studied a group of Tembo women growers of cassava and peanuts west of Lac Kivu who successfully protested against the imposition of excessive collectivity taxes and market taxes levied on them when they went to market. The local chief was hostile. But a sympathetic local Catholic church, which provided a forum for meetings and assistance in letter writing, was helpful, as was the ethnic homogeneity of the group. Although they could not nominate a woman for election to the local council, they did succeed in voting for males friendly to their position. The newly elected councillors hastened to suspend the taxes and the tolls.
Not all women's organizations have been equally successful. In Kisangani the Association of Women Merchants (Association des Femmes Commerçantes—Afco) failed to advance the interests of the assembled women merchants. The group instead turned into a vehicle for class interests, namely those of the middle-class president. MacGaffey clearly saw the case as one of the triumph of class solidarity over gender solidarity.
A continuing challenge for women has been the limited integration of women's experience and perspectives into the development initiatives of Western development agencies. As Brooke Schoepf has documented, little effort has been made to create agricultural extension networks for women, who have continued to contribute the overwhelming bulk of agricultural labor. In addition, project production goals rarely have taken into account the effect of the withdrawal of women's time from current food production and household work to meet the goals of the new programs. Development in such a context often has meant a step backward rather than a step forward from the perspective of the women being "developed".
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2006 expressed concern that in the post-war transition period, the promotion of women’s human rights and gender equality is not seen as a priority.
A 2006 report by the African Association for the Defence of Human Rights prepared for that committee provides a broad overview of issues confronting women in the DRC in law and in daily life.
In 2015, diaspora figures such as Emmanuel Weyi began to comment on the plight affecting women, and the need to make their progress a key issue in the approaching democratic election (which didn't take place).
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo-Kinshasa, Zaire, DR Congo, DRC, the DROC, or simply the Congo, is a country in Central Africa. It was formerly called Zaire (1971–1997). It is, by area, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa, and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 101 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most-populous officially Francophone country in the world, as well as the fourth-most populous in Africa, and the 15th-most-populous country in the world. Since 2015, the Eastern DR Congo has been the scene of an ongoing military conflict in Kivu.
Bukavu is a city in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), lying at the extreme south-western edge of Lake Kivu, west of Cyangugu in Rwanda, and separated from it by the outlet of the Ruzizi River. It is the capital of the South Kivu province and as of 2012 it had an estimated population of 806,940.
The Second Congo War began in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in August 1998, little more than a year after the First Congo War, and involved some of the same issues. The war officially ended in July 2003, when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power. Although a peace agreement was signed in 2002, violence has continued in many regions of the country, especially in the east. Hostilities have continued since the ongoing Lord's Resistance Army insurgency, and the Kivu and Ituri conflicts.
The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or MONUSCO, an acronym based on its French name, is a United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which was established by the United Nations Security Council in resolutions 1279 (1999) and 1291 (2000) of the United Nations Security Council to monitor the peace process of the Second Congo War, though much of its focus subsequently turned to the Ituri conflict, the Kivu conflict and the Dongo conflict. The mission was known as the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo or MONUC, an acronym of its French name Mission de l'Organisation des Nations Unies en République démocratique du Congo, until 2010.
The term Mayi-Mayi or Mai-Mai refers to any kind of community-based militia group active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that is formed to defend local territory against other armed groups. Most were formed to resist the invasion of Rwandan forces and Rwanda-affiliated Congolese rebel groups, but some may have formed to exploit the war to their own advantage by looting, cattle rustling or banditry.
The Mining industry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a significant factor in the world's production of cobalt, copper, diamond, tantalum, tin, and gold. It is the Democratic Republic of the Congo's largest source of export income. In 2009, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had an estimated $24 trillion in untapped mineral deposits, including the world's largest reserves of coltan and significant quantities of the world's cobalt. The United States Geological Survey estimates that the DRC has 1 million tons of lithium resources.
The Kivu conflict began in 2004 in the eastern Congo as an armed conflict between the military of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and the Hutu Power group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has broadly consisted of three phases, the third of which is an ongoing conflict. Prior to March 2009, the main combatant group against the FARDC was the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP). Following the cessation of hostilities between these two forces, rebel Tutsi forces, formerly under the command of Laurent Nkunda, became the dominant opposition to the government forces.
Laurent Nkunda is a former General in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is the former warlord operating in the province of Nord-Kivu, sympathetic to Congolese Tutsis and the Tutsi-dominated government of neighbouring Rwanda. Nkunda, who is himself a Congolese Tutsi, commanded the former DRC troops of the 81st and 83rd Brigades of the DRC Army. He speaks English, French, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Lingala and Kinande. On January 22, 2009, he was put under house arrest in Gisenyi when he was called for a meeting to plan a joint operation between the Congolese and Rwandan militaries.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the east of the country in particular, has been described as the "Rape Capital of the World," and the prevalence and intensity of all forms of sexual violence has been described as the worst in the world. Human Rights Watch defines sexual violence as "an act of a sexual nature by force, or by threat of force or coercion," and rape as "a form of sexual violence during which the body of a person is invaded, resulting in penetration, however slight, of any part of the body of the victim, with a sexual organ, or of the anal or genital opening of the victim with any object or other part of the body."
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor and forced prostitution. The majority of this trafficking is internal, and much of it is perpetrated by armed groups and government forces outside government control within the DRC's unstable eastern provinces.
The DRC Mapping Exercise Report, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo 1993-2003 UN Mapping Report, was a report by the United Nations within the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the wake of the armed aggressions and war which took place between March 1993 and June 2003. Its aim was to map the most serious violations of human rights, together with violations of international humanitarian law, committed within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In doing this it was to assess the capacities within the national justice system to deal appropriately with such human rights violations and to formulate a series of options aimed at assisting the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in identifying appropriate transitional justice mechanisms to deal with the legacy of these violations. It contained 550 pages and contained descriptions of 617 alleged violent incidents.
Prostitution in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is legal but related activities are prohibited. The Congolese penal code punishes pimping, running a bawdy house or brothel, the exploitation of debauchery or prostitution, as well as forced prostitution. Activities that incite minors or promote the prostitution of others have been criminalised. The government does little to enforce the law. During the colonial era and the years that followed independence, the Ministry of Health issued calling cards identifying professional sex workers and provided them with medical health checks. However, this system was abandoned in the 1980s. Public order laws are sometimes used against sex workers. Street prostitutes report harassment, violence and extortion from the police. UNAIDS estimated there are 2.9 million sex workers in the country.
Prostitution in Angola is illegal and prevalent since the 1990s. Prostitution increased further at the end of the civil war in 2001. Prohibition is not consistently enforced. Many women engage in prostitution due to poverty. It was estimated in 2013 that there were about 33,00 sex workers in the country. Many Namibian women enter the country illegally, often via the border municipality of Curoca, and travel to towns such as Ondjiva, Lubango and Luanda to work as prostitutes.
Minova is a strategic town in the Kalehe Territory, South Kivu Province/ Eastern-DRC and is an important business center for Farm-Fishery Products in the Kivu Province.It is very close to Idjwi Island, Masisi Territory, Lake Kivu on its North Western shore and is only 45 km from the Goma city.The development of this place is linked with an important refugee's history [ those from Rwanda in 1994, those from Masisi in 1992–1997, and other surrounding areas.] in northern South Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is known for atrocities committed there in 2012.
The United Nations Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) is a military formation which constitutes part of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). It was authorized by the United Nations Security Council on 28 March 2013 through Resolution 2098. Although it is not the first instance in which the use of force was authorized by the UN, the Force Intervention Brigade is the first UN peacekeeping operation specifically tasked to carry out targeted offensive operations to "neutralize and disarm" groups considered a threat to state authority and civilian security. In this case, the main target was the M23 militia group, as well as other Congolese and foreign rebel groups. While such operations do not require the support of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), the Force Intervention Brigade often acts in unison with the FARDC to disarm rebel groups.
Solange Lwashiga Furaha is a human and women's rights activist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the executive secretary of the South Kivu Congolese Women's Caucus for Peace.
The 2017 Semuliki attack was an attack carried out by elements of the Allied Democratic Forces on a United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) operating base in the Beni Territory, North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on December 7, 2017. The attack was highly coordinated and resulted in the deaths of fifteen U.N. peacekeeping personnel and wounds to 53 others making it the deadliest incident for the U.N. since the deaths of twenty-four Pakistani peacekeepers in an ambush in Somalia in 1993. The attack was among many of the latest flare-ups in violence in the North Kivu region which borders Uganda and Rwanda and one of the ADF's deadliest attacks in recent history. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres labeled the attack, "the worst attack on UN peacekeepers in the organization's recent history."
Poverty is widespread and unchecked across the 26 provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Despite being the second-largest country in Africa, with an approximate area of 2.3 million square kilometres (890,000 sq mi), and being endowed with rich natural resources, the DRC is the second-poorest country in the world. The average annual income is only $785 US dollars. In 2016, the United Nations (UN) Human Development Index (HDI) ranked the DRC as the 176th least-developed country out of 188 countries with an HDI of 0.435. More than 80% of Congolese people live on less than $1.25 a day, defined as the threshold for extreme poverty.
The Nduma Defense of Congo is a militia that operates in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of the Kivu conflict. Mai-Mai groups are militia unique to the eastern DRC, formed ostensibly to defend villages from attacks from Rwandan forces and Rwandan backed rebel groups. However, Mai-Mai groups have been accused of sexual violence, looting, and fighting all sides including fellow militias, the DRC army, and even the United Nations.
Massacres of Hutus during the First Congo War refers to the mass killing of Rwandan, Congolese and Burundian Hutu men, women and children in villages and refugee camps then hunted down while fleeing across the territory of Democratic Republic of Congo from October 1996 to May 1997.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed concern over abuses against civilians, especially women and children, in South Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, saying it frequently receives reports of abductions, executions, rapes, and pillage.
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