Women for Women International

In countries affected by conflict and war, Women for Women International supports the most marginalized women to earn and save money, improve health and well-being, influence decisions in their home and community, and connect to networks for support. By utilizing skills, knowledge, and resources, she is able to create sustainable change for herself, her family, and community.
Feb 12, 2009

DRC Women return to classes

Woman at Mugunga camp.
Woman at Mugunga camp.

In speaking with staff in our offices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), we have learned that nearly all of the women in our program in Goma have been able to return to classes. While women are still concerned for their safety, the situation has improved at our location in Goma to an extent that women and their families are able to make the trip to class.

Sponsorship funds for these women are more important than ever as they struggle to provide for their families in what is still an unstable environment. The sponsors of women not yet able to return to the program will be contacted individually so that we may together determine how best to support the women at this time.

Our program offices in all of our other locations in the DRC where we serve the majority of women in our DR Congo program remain unaffected by the continued violence.

Thank you to our supporters for their heartfelt concern for the women and if you sponsor a woman in the DRC, please do take a moment to send her a letter letting her know you are glad she is safe, that you hope she is able to complete the program so she may sustain an income and affect change in her community and that there are men and women around the world concerned for her.

Links:

Dec 9, 2008

Christine Karumba, Country Director of the Congo, Speaks to Voice of America about ongoing Rape Cris

As efforts continue to try to end the conflict in the eastern DRC, the toll the fighting has taken on civilians grows higher. And both women and men have been victims of rape and sexual violence. Christine Karumba, Country Director for Women for Women International, once again spoke to VOA English to Africa about the situation in eastern Congo. November 26, 2008

Links:

Nov 11, 2008

Call for Action to Stop Fighting in DR Congo

The climate of impunity for mass rape in DR Congo is a significa
The climate of impunity for mass rape in DR Congo is a significa

Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo are calling for assistance and strong international leadership to prevent further deterioration of the devastating humanitarian situation in the country's eastern provinces. Panel discussion hosted by Women for Women International in New York Thursday. "The climate of impunity is problematic and an obstacle to a stable peace in eastern Congo. Although the challenges of reforming and building a functioning law enforcement and justice system are huge, it will be the key of stopping violent attacks - including sexual violence - on civilians"

Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo are calling for assistance and strong international leadership to prevent further deterioration of the devastating humanitarian situation in the country's eastern provinces. Congo Panel, Women for Women International Oct 2008

Tony Gambino, an expert on development issues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said in New York at a panel discussion hosted by Women for Women International that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council need to take a 'No More Victims' approach towards the humanitarian crisis in Congo. "Because it is clear that the Congolese authorities are incapable of protecting the population, we need to get engaged. The universally accepted principle of 'the responsibility to protect' applies to Congo and we must follow through on it," Gambino said.

Gambino is the author of 'Congo: Securing Peace, Sustaining Progress', a special report published this week by the Council on Foreign Relations in which he argues that the U.S. should focus on ending rampant violence and insecurity in eastern Congo and promoting broad-based environmentally sound sustainable development. "The current UN mission in eastern Congo needs the necessary personnel and mandate to fulfill its central role in stopping rampant violence and helping to build capable security forces," Gambino said on Thursday. "Without this civilians won't find protection and peace."

Tens of thousands of civilians are currently fleeing a rebel advance on the provincial capital of Goma, bringing the number of recently displaced people to over 150,000. Neither the 17,000-person strong UN peacekeeping force nor the Congolese forces have been able to prevent a breakdown of the ceasefire that has brought the province close to full-scale war. The displaced are leaving behind most of their belongings and are staying in makeshift camps without access to water, food, and basic health care.

Also addressing the panel, Women for Women International Country Director Christine Karumba said that fear among women in eastern Congo is rising. Many have endured and witnessed gross sexual violence and are afraid that mass rape will further increase if the country returns to war. "The women we are working with don't want to lose what they have achieved," Karumba said. "It is very precious to them." She warned that the area would be hit by a serious food shortage if people are unable to harvest their crops due to displacement. Any loss of income would worsen the situation of the desperately poor civilian population in the eastern part of the country, Karumba added.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo rape has been used by almost all parties of the conflict as a weapon of choice and observers have found that it is now also spreading among civilians as a means of intimidation, torture, and exercising power. The lack of protection through local law enforcement and security authorities is increasing fears of sexual violence escalating. The effects of brutal attacks on women are long-lasting and frequently leave them with severe physical and psychological problems that often remain untreated. The stigma of rape makes many survivors and their children destitute after they are rejected by their families and communities.

Mike VanRooyen, Co-Director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI)--which is conducting both clinical work for rape victims and research in eastern Congo--said during the panel discussion that focus group discussion with survivors have shown the need for economic support to women who are trying to rebuild their lives. The HHI research has also found that although men do not often speak out against the rape epidemic, they are deeply affected by the fact that they are unable to protect women and girls from the attacks.

Panelists agreed that perpetrators need to be brought to justice. "The climate of impunity is problematic and an obstacle to a stable peace in eastern Congo. Although the challenges of reforming and building a functioning law enforcement and justice system are huge, it will be the key of stopping violent attacks - including sexual violence - on civilians," VanRooyen added.

Since 2003, Women for Women International has served more than 18,991 Congolese women and another 102,551 family and community members in this region. Through a holistic program that includes rights awareness and life skills training, income generation assistance, and vocational and skills development, women are able to create stability and self-sufficiency amidst an otherwise chaotic and volatile environment. In 2007 alone, the program reached 9,489 women in the communities of Bukavu, Goma, Fizi and Baraka in the Kivu provinces of eastern Congo. Women for Women International also conducts Men's Leadership Training programs that aim at educating religious, traditional, and civic leaders about the consequences of sexual violence on women and whole communities, with the aim of turning men into advocates of women's rights.

Links:

 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.