Empower a Girl in the Congo

May 17, 2013

Changing Attitudes Through Youth Clubs

Boys in the adolescents
Boys in the adolescents' club

In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), International Medical Corps continues to run youth clubs that are designed to encourage the next generation of women leaders in their community.

Sessions at the clubs explore gender issues, healthy relationships and the role of women in the communities. Young women at the clubs can participate in life skills courses on topics such as decision making, confidence building and setting goals. Local women from the community also act as mentors for the young women.

The clubs are also open to young men, to promote equality and dialogue with their female peers. International Medical Corps’ youth groups aim to make young men supportive of female leaders within their communities.

International Medical Corps' focus on both boys and girls promotes an organic, holistic approach the changing attitudes and behaviors. This approach is the most effective way to make DRC safer and more supportive for women and girls.

Boys of Bukavu
Boys of Bukavu
Boys and girls of Kalonge, playing football
Boys and girls of Kalonge, playing football
Feb 20, 2013

Changing Attitudes and Behaviors in the Congo

Women work on livlihood activities in the DRC
Women work on livlihood activities in the DRC

UN officials have called DRC the epicenter of rape as a weapon of war, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited rape victims in eastern Congo in 2009 in an effort to draw more attention to one of Africa’s most disturbing conflicts.

In the DRC, International Medical Corps takes a holistic approach to addressing violence against women, so that survivors have access to medical, psychosocial, legal, economic, and social resources needed to recover as well as work with communities to prevent and reduce violence against women.  We offer case management and  emotional support services for survivors of GBV. We also provide legal services, livelihoods training and economic opportunities to help survivors recover and become self-reliant. 

Over the last 2 years in North and South Kivu, International Medical Corps has: 

  • Trained 460 service providers in GBV clinical care for survivors.
  • Treated 1,762 GBV survivors in accordance with national treatment protocols.
  • Provided 842 survivors with post-exposure prophylaxis.

Justice for victims of violence is elusive in DRC. Perpetrators of violence walk free within days—if ever caught in the first place. What’s more, social stigma prevents women from seeking treatment or reporting attacks.


But, International Medical Corps is working to change attitudes towards women.

“Community leaders in Bukavu were called for training on women in leadership. When I heard, I was not interested in attending, but the M’ze (chief) sent me to represent him. For me, it was a women’s issue. Though I have daughters, I have never thought I have something to discuss with them. And these young women came (project facilitator) and talked about how girls can face problems outside of home, in schools, in the street and how they need our support as family heads, as parents. On the second day, we discussed the benefit of including girls at all level of decisions. 

I felt impressed and touched by the message. I have four daughters whom I had never find necessary to discuss something different from my food to be served. From this training venue, I think I will start to start.‘’

-60-year-old man , Bukavu

International Medical Corps’ efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo focus not only on women, but also on their families. The participant quoted above took part in a training session on the inclusion of women in decision-making for community and religious leaders. The workshop included both men and women, and discussed topics from the principles of community mobilization to the legal instruments that protect women and advocacy. These topics are key to educating communities about women’s rights.

Workshops like the one described above bring together community leaders and empower them to create change within their own families. By educating community elders – and their sons, daughters, wives and husbands, International Medical Corps helps leaders set an example for the entire community, changing the way women and girls are treated.

Nov 14, 2012

Go Team!

The teenagers of Bunyakiri High School in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have lived their entire lives in a region at the center of one of Africa's most brutal and violent conflicts.  Women and girls there also carry enormous burdens in tending farms, carrying water and firewood, and caring for families. In this environment of gender inequality, women and girls are at high risk of multiple forms of gender-based violence (GBV), including rape, domestic violence, and forced marriage.

Through a unique collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development, International Medical Corps is educating and sensitizing young people about women's rights, sexual health and the consequences of GBV.  It is especially important to reach young people who are still developing their ideas about gender and relationships, which tend to be more ingrained in adults. One of the ways in which we engage young people to promote peace and change attitudes and behaviors about violence is through soccer.

By bringing together groups of girls from different villages across South Kivu province to play soccer, International Medical Corps' GBV experts can reach a wide audience to educate young people about their rights under the law, such as their protection from forced marriage under the age of 18, as well as information about where survivors of sexual violence can find help our health centers. The games also build connections between communities that have been kept isolated in recent years because of violence and insecurity. As a result, young people are reached directly and also made champions within their families and communities for a more promising and peaceful future.

One female 10th grade Bunyakiri High School student told us, “Because of the [girls' soccer] matches we play, I have met many new friends from areas outside my village. I say to my family that I am the example of gender equality because I go to play matches all over Bunyakiri."  

International Medical Corps has worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 1999, providing more than one million people with health care, health sector training, gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and treatment, nutrition, food security, and water and sanitation services. Our complementary USAID-funded Care, Access, Safety & Empowerment and Behavior Change Communications projects in DRC take a comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of GBV survivors, while also preventing future cases by changing community attitudes around gender and violence.


About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $10
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $10
    each month
  • $25
    each month
  • $50
    each month
  • $100
    each month
  • $
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Project Leader

Chessa Latifi

Resource Development Officer
Santa Monica, CA Afghanistan

Where is this project located?