Funding a Women's Movement Against Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo: 2004-2009

Published: January 2010

This report is an in-depth study of the underlying causes of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and how Global Fund support has helped women's groups to promote women's leadership, peace, justice, and respect for human rights. Over five years, we supported 70 groups with over $880,000 in grants as they implemented innovative community-based strategies. The report shares 10 case studies and recommendations for donors.

The women of Congo emphasize that until there is peace, sexual violence will continue unabated. We heard the message that women's rights are not distinct from systemic efforts needed to strengthen communities, increase standards of living, and support the realization of Congolese sovereignty. This report is a call to the international human rights community to give significant support to civil society in Congo -- in particular the growth of the women's rights movement.

Key Findings

  • The majority of rape victims are thrown out of the home by their husbands or parents, and considered soiled and a shame to the family.
  • While there has been some noticeable increase in medical support for rape victims, the endemic poverty that has gripped Congo has led destitute rape victims to accept cash payments instead of pursuing arrests and legal actions against perpetrators.
  • Economic empowerment is key to social reintegration. Women survivors of rape who have received business training and support to establish individual enterprises have regained some respect in their families and communities and are increasingly reintegrated into family structures.
  • While the state has adopted international and regional norms and national legislation on sexual violence and peace-building, they have not been implemented.
  • Holistic and multi-pronged approaches, including economic empowerment programs, must be implemented to improve women�s lives.
  • Disarmament and respect for the rule of law are necessary for human rights and women�s rights to be respected.
  • Foreign intervention in Congo�s economic and political affairs will be a source of long-term instability and prevent the use of Congo�s resources for its own national development.
  • GFW's flexible grants, that allow groups to prioritize how the funds will be used, meet the most pressing needs and raise the legitimacy of women's rights groups.

Publishers Global Fund for Women

Geographic Focus Africa (Central) / Democratic Republic of Congo