Folke Bernadotte Academy – Swedish agency for peace, security and development

Catalina Perdomo Rodriguez

Gender adviser in the DRC

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s most conflict-affected states, and the country hosting the world’s largest UN peace operation MONUSCO. Catalina Perdomo Rodriguez is on secondment from FBA to work as gender adviser for the mission.

Catalina is stationed at the MONUSCO headquarters in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC.

Catalina, how would you describe a regular day at work?

– I read many reports on the security situation and the political situation in DRC, and I analyze what sort of impact the recent developments will have on women and men. I also have meetings with colleagues from the MONUSCO headquarters and the field offices throughout the country, to discuss how they can work in order to take both women's and men's security needs into account. DRC is one of the most unequal countries in the world and sexual violence has been used as a weapon in the conflicts raging the country. It mostly affects women and girls.

Why is a gender adviser needed in a peace operation?

– It is important to make sure that the work of the UN is effective, and that both men and women benefit from UN peace operations. Peace operations have traditionally been staffed by men with a background in the military and the police. They are not necessarily trained in thinking about women's security needs and in tapping on women's capacities, and how these may differ from the needs and capacities of men. That is why a gender adviser is needed within a peace operation. The mission of a peace operation is, after all, to build peace and assure security for all people living in the area where the peace operation is deployed.

What did you do prior to your secondment from FBA to MONUSCO?

– I have been working for the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), among others. I have been an adviser, project manager and researcher, working with issues spanning from human rights and democracy to security and the political participation of women. I have worked in Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America.

What do you want to do in the future?

– You can bring your family with you when you are deployed to Kinshasa, which is a big city. I live with my husband and our two children in Kinshasa. When my children are older, I would like to work more in the field. But while they are young I will probably continue to work at a headquarter level. It is interesting since a lot of decision-making takes place at the headquarter level, while the work is often more practical if you are stationed at a field office. But whether I will be stationed at a field office or at headquarter level in the future, I hope that I will always be working for international peace and democracy.

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