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

Research has to reach out with results that can be put into action

After 20 years with the women, peace and security agenda we are still far from the goals where women’s participation in peace processes is a key issue. The UN Secretary General has called on international actors to look into their ways of working. To what extent can research help us develop the work for peace and security to become more efficient?

2020-12-18 11:47

Read our publications

""

Youth, Peace and Security Adviser’s Handbook

Never before in history have there been so many young people on the planet. A very important cornerstone for reaching sustainable peace and security is to ensure that young people have the rights, tools and opportunities, to participate in a meaningful manner in statebuilding and peacebuilding processes.

Documents
Attributes
Author:
FBA
Year:
2020

THE FBA BLOG

  • Posted by Hanna Bertelman

    Creating space for dialogue in Colombia

    In Colombia, four years after the signing of the historic peace agreement between the government and the FARC guerrilla, local civil society actors are a pivotal force for promoting change. The FBA, together with CIASE, a network of women´s organizations, and the Colombian National Police is enabling a space for joint learning for civil society actors and police officers on human security, leadership, and dialogue and mediation.

    As most of those who have seen a peace process ... Read entire post »

    2020-12-16 12:44
  • Posted by Annika Folkeson

    Avenues for accountability and participation: harnessing the power of the streets

    While much of the world awaits the upcoming US presidential elections in November, Iraq remains ensnared in its own deliberations over elections. Following the protests that escalated significantly in October 2019, the government resigned and early elections are now set for June 2021.

    The lack of jobs and public services, as well as rampant corruption, are among the grievances that have set off demonstrations across much of southern and central Iraq, as well as parts of Kurdistan ... Read entire post »

    2020-10-22 12:19
  • Posted by Minna Naucler

    ‘Defund the police’ and reforming the security sector

    In the midst of the pandemic, riots and unrest continues in the US over the recent cases of police brutality that resulted in the deaths of several African American individuals. While the Black Lives Matter movement continues to draw attention to the structural racism and inequalities of the American society, one of the slogans of the movement is ‘defund the police’ – seemingly meaning to disband or even abolish the police and give their funding to… ... Read entire post »

    2020-09-30 12:26
""

Johanna Malm

Johanna is expert on the Democratic Republic of Congo

More about our experts

Upcoming courses

""

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