Lady Gael, participant at an intergenerational exchange workshop organised by Kvinna till Kvinna. Photo: Sandra Simbakwira

Why The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation works in DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has seen over 20 years of war and violent conflict, claiming more than 5 million lives. Episodes of violence still occur in Eastern DRC, where Kvinna till Kvinna is active together with partners, with 120 rebel groups still present.

Complex root causes of the conflict

The root causes and dynamics of the conflict are multiple and complex and include inequitable access to land and natural resources, a lack of equal opportunities to access political power, proliferation of small arms and underlying inequalities and grievances between identity groups. The neo-patrimonial system that characterises DRC politics and the society at large, includes inequality between the sexes and strict and traditional gender norms in families and communities.

Lack of women’s political and economic participation

As a result, women’s political participation is worryingly low: only 13% of parliamentarian are women. But we see progress—in April 2024, Judith Suminwa was appointed as the first female prime minister in the country.

Economically, their influence is limited too: 60% of women in the DRC live below the poverty line. In the agricultural sector, women are overrepresented but still forced to rely on men to access land.

Violence against women

Violence against women is pervasive. The UN estimates 2 out of 3 women are subjected to physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. Most commonly, the violence occurs at home, perpetrated by a woman’s intimate partner.

Educational gap and child marriages

The gender inequalities can also be demonstrated in the educational gap and amount of school dropouts for girls in adolescent age (source: UNICEF). Among young women almost one in three were married before the age of 18. These high rates are fueled by early and unwanted pregnancies (sometimes due to the high rates of sexual violence and rape), poverty (as child marriage becomes a way to help alleviate families’ desperate economic situation) and the violent conflict in eastern DRC, including members of armed groups forcefully taking young women for wives.

Change through the Rien sans les femmes movement

Women’s rights and other organisations from across the country have joined forces and formed the Rien sans les Femmes (Nothing without Women) movement, to promote equal representation in state institutions, during the past 20 years. Kvinna till Kvinna partners has successfully advocated for changed legislation in regards to women’s participation, and continues to fight for improved rights for women in all of DRC.

Last updated or reviewed 30 May 2024
Published 3 April 2024