Fighting Violence Against Women and Gender Discrimination in DRC

By Florence Mwenge Sakumi, International Medical Corps, DRC

November 27, 2013 – To mark this year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign, International Medical Corps, through our Behavior Change Communication project, conducted activities related to the fight against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Activities included three day workshops with students from different educational institutions in DRC. 

In the workshops, students shared views and attitudes about SGBV, and causes and consequences were identified. Beliefs and cultures drove the discussion, and conclusions and recommendations were reached.

Participant Félicia (19) said: “I am glad, for now onward I am able to identify other forms of gender based violence within our institutions.”

Parfait (26) from the University of Goma said: “Cultures and beliefs are values that consolidate the community but they are sometimes barriers to fighting gender-based violence. With this work shop, we are learning from International Medical Corps that changing the behavior of communities on SGBV is possible through sensitization of peers and members of our family.”

Wivine, from The University of Great Lake, said: “Denunciation of sexual and gender-based violence is blocked by the customs even in educational institutions; we need a system in each institution to support us in denouncing violence until all ladies get peace.”

Background: International Medical Corps’ work to treat and prevent SGBV in DRC began in 2002. Our holistic approach to SGBV includes integrating services for survivors into our primary health care programs, training doctors and community health workers in SGBV response, and sensitizing communities against SGBV through education and training. Through our five-year, USAID-funded Care, Access, Safety, and Empowerment (CASE) project, we are increasing access to and quality of medical and psychosocial services for SGBV survivors, as well as providing assistance to individuals and families affected by SGBV. Through our USAID-funded “Behavior Change Communication” program, International Medical Corps works with partners to utilize behavior change communication methods to impact social attitudes, practices and norms associated with SGBV in eastern DRC.

FROM RELIEF TO SELF-RELIANCE

For 30 years, International Medical Corps has worked to relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster and disease by delivering vital health care services that focus on training, helping devastated populations return to self-reliance.

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