Rien Sans les Femmes
No peace and stability without women
Women are often the ones encouraging families and communities to change their actions and behaviour, and live in peace and cohesion. However, it was only in 2000 when the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 to finally recognise the importance of including women’s participation and perspectives to build lasting peace and good governance.
Over the years, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has made an effort to increase women’s participation in public institutions by adopting article 14 of the 2006 constitution, as well as by recognising international legal instruments such as the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Mputo Protocol. However, the implementation of such commitments is still weak and women’s participation in decision-making in DRC remains low at all levels.
Rien Sans les Femmes (‘Nothing Without Women’), a campaign supported by the Swedish government and International Alert, brings together almost 160 organisations who campaign to increase the number of women candidates in elections and to enhance women’s role in decision-making processes within the government and society. Solange Lwashiga, one of the partners in the movement, once said: “there won’t be any peace, any sustainable development, without women in DRC.” Indeed, empowering women as economic, political and social actors leads to more representative institutions and peaceful societies.
The campaign led to the mobilisation of an impressive number of women’s rights organisations and individuals, whose collective voice obtained the passing of the women’s rights and parity law in 2015 and the appointment of 40% women by the governor of South Kivu in the newly formed government in 2016. This not only provided women with a number of new protections and rights, but also enhanced a more sustainable peace in DRC and in the wider Great Lakes region.
Therefore, gender norms around which societies are built must be addressed together with the barriers and obstacles that prevent women’s participation in public life. A culture of plurality and cohesion is the only way to ensure a lasting peace in post-conflict societies.