DR Congo: UN helps women fight under-representation in government

1 April 2010 – The United Nations is boosting the efforts of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to overcome decades of low female participation in politics and achieve their rightful role in governing the vast African country and rebuilding it after years of civil war.

“Achieving democratic governance is not possible without equal participation of men and women in decision-making processes,” UN Development Programme (UNDP) gender expert Marie Bapu told the first national conference of Congolese women which concluded in Kinshasa, the capital, yesterday.

This implies “a good definition of public policies and the establishment of laws and programmes for the encouragement and achievement of equality,” she said.

The conference was organized by the Congolese Women’s League for Elections in collaboration with the UN, the Government, and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.

The senior gender adviser for the UN Mission in DRC (MONUC), Elsie Effange-Mbella, noted that this year marks the 15th anniversary of the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing, which emphasized gender equality at all levels, including in decision-making processes and national policies through democratic elections.

She stressed that MONUC had striven to ensure that the conference achieve nationwide participation by arranging for delegates from 11 provinces to use MONUC flights and covering their accommodation and living expenses.

“This investment has been worthwhile considering the seminar’s objectives and the fruitful exchange of experiences and ideas,” she said.

UNDP, together with other partners, including the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), has been supporting the Government in formulating a national gender policy to promote gender mainstreaming in all government actions at the national and provincial level.

The goal is to support Congolese women in their quest for leadership and make them aware that they have “a key role in rebuilding their country,” Ms. Bapu said.


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