FBA in Congo: Claudine's story

Claudine is breastfeeding her youngest daughter when we find her in the meeting room of the Danish Refugee Council’s office in the city of Kitchanga, in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Claudine is one of the original members in one of the two protection committees that were formed in Kitchanga in October 2014, as part of a project funded by the FBA and implemented by the Danish Refugee Council.

The project aims to empower women and promote their participation in peace and security forums. Within the framework of the project the Danish Refugee Council arrange trainings, meetings, dialogue and mediation facilitation, and awareness raising initiatives through media to strengthen the capacity of women to actively participate in these forums.

– When I heard about the initiative to form the committee, I felt the urge to participate. After having learnt about the objective of the committee, to address local security issues and advocate for the increased participation of women in the community decision-making, I volunteered as a member of the committee. I felt a call to help others, Claudine says.

Before joining the committee Claudine was obeying her husband, just like many other women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She did not dare to demand any influence in decisions about the household, not to mention speaking up about women’s protection issues in the public sphere. Now she has the courage to discuss both with her husband and other stakeholders in Kitchanga, such as the police. She has learnt about women’s and children’s rights and has convinced her husband that their girls also need an education. Today their girls are going to school in the afternoon, just as the boys already did before. Claudine and her husband take decisions together and her husband is supportive of her work in the protection committee.

– I have a more active role in the community of Kitchanga now, Claudine says.

During the interview, Claudine is shy in the beginning, answering our questions with a simple yes or no. But she slowly works up her confidence and starts speaking more. With a warm smile, she tells us that she feels happy when she’s working with the committee.

– Being in the committee has helped me, and others, to become stronger. I feel proud to be able to help others with their problems.

In the committee, Claudine has received training on subjects such as human rights, advocacy techniques, early warning systems and responses to sexual and gender-based violence, the role of the police, mediation, and complaint mechanisms. She uses the skills when handling the issues that the community of Kitchanga brings to the committee. Among other tasks, she accompanies victims of sexual violence to health clinics to receive PEP kits and treatment of injuries, she mediates with husbands of rape victims who according to customs want to send their wives away, and she negotiates with the police to properly assume their role protecting the population rather than harassing them.

In spite of having worked only for a few months, the committee is already known and trusted by the population in Kitchanga. Through sensitisation activities and good examples, such as contributing to the removal of illegal check points where the police or the army used to demand donations from the population, the committee has already gained a good reputation. Claudine is proud to share her work with us and we could have easily talked to her all day. But eventually she has to go. She walks away holding her head high and carrying her daughter tied to a straight back. There is no doubt that Claudine will continue her work in the committee and it is evident that the Democratic Republic of Congo benefits from inspiring role models as herself.

The FBA 1325 grants

UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and the following resolutions 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2016 and 2122 all highlight the importance of women's participation and protection in conflict and post-conflict situations. Each year, the Folke Bernadotte Academy grants funds to Swedish and international organizations and foundations working with projects that support the implementation of the resolutions. Find out more.

MORE FROM HOME

FBA’s programme for young peacebuilders in Iraq inaugurated

After decades of war, Iraq needs to be rebuilt. Violent protests against the inability of the Iraqi state to provide its citizens with security and basic social services have rocked the country recently. FBA is now starting a programme for young peacebuilders in Iraq, in order to strengthen them in their non-violent efforts for a positive development.

2019-10-28 16:55

IN THE FIELD

Read our publications

Image description

Insights from the Inside: Women’s Mediation Networks as a Tool for Influencing Peace Processes

Civil society-led networks of women have for decades worked hard to promote peace in conflict areas around the world, and lately, a new wave of women's mediation networks are being established that are led by states or regional organizations. All these networks share a collective aim: To promote women's inclusion and influence in mediated peace processes.

Documents
Attributes
Author:
FBA, Uppsala University, PRIO
Year:
2019

THE FBA BLOG

  • Posted by Jessica Rothman

    Peace-making and cheese-making in Georgia

    Exactly ten years had passed since I last worked in Georgia, when I returned for my deployment to the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM), in the country that has a special place in my heart. I arrived with so much curiosity and excitement, wondering how Georgia had developed and recovered after the war in 2008. The first thing that struck me was the condition of the cars, where were all the dilapidated Ladas and Volgas that used ... Read entire post »

    2019-12-05 11:19
  • Posted by Eric Mellado-Åhlin

    Revising the UN guidelines for support to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants: a high-hanging fruit

    One of my first tasks as a desk officer at FBA, working with disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants, was to assist in arranging a conference in Stockholm. As the conference approached, I understood that the goal – to unite the 25 UN agencies of the Inter-Agency Working Group on DDR and come to agreement on the way forward for the revision of the Integrated DDR Standards (IDDRS) – was more complicated than I ... Read entire post »

    2019-11-26 16:22
  • Posted by Kuisma Kinnunen

    From policy to practice – gender as a perspective

    As a trainer, what could be better than to be part of a multinational group with a variety of backgrounds, eagerly wanting to learn new skills? Especially when you get to be the course participant for a change.

    I had a dual aim when I recently participated in the Gender Perspective in the EU Common Security and Defence Policy Course, organised by FBA under the auspices of the European Security and Defence College. Besides learning new gender ... Read entire post »

    2019-10-23 11:27
Photo

Saba Nowzari

Saba Nowzari is expert on Mali, the Middle East and women, peace and security

More about our experts

Upcoming courses

Photo

Our partner countries

FBA is part of Sweden’s development aid within the area of peace and security

Read more about the countries where we work

Twitter