Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

24 July 2017

Transcript of Deputy Secretary-General’s Press Encounter following her meeting with Léonard She Okitundu, Vice-Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Q: May we kindly ask what is the substance of the discussion with the Vice Prime Minister, and also any messages you have for the Congolese people?

Deputy Secretary-General: Thank you very much. It’s been a complete honour and privilege to be here. It’s one of many visits the United Nations make, but this time it’s high-powered. It’s about African women and what we intend to do in the Continent but also in particular, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We have been warmly received by his Excellency and with discussions around the mission, and the mission really is in context; first that we would like to begin the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals - we all agreed that in 2015 – with a focus on women, and how we can see women’s empowerment, addressing women’s human rights, and addressing women with their rights to the electoral process, and what happens as we go forward.
Of course the Democratic Republic of the Congo is facing many challenges. The United Nations is here to support the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the transitions, but also in achieving its aspirations. There is a reality – my message to the Congolese people – there is a reality on the ground, and there is the aspiration of the Congolese people, and our job is to close this gap – the gap between the reality and the aspiration. It’s not easy, but I think if there is genuine intent, that collaboration can happen with all parties concerned. So our job is to try to make sure that we find a way and a dialogue and a spirit to make that happen.

Q: Excellency, as part of this mission is about sexual violence in conflict, the media is asking you kindly – whether your mission will be to come and take stock of the progress that has been made, and continue to support the Congo, and also help take away that stigma of the Congo being labelled as the capital of rape and sexual violence in the world?

Deputy Secretary-General: Yes, of course – we acknowledge the work that has been done by the Democratic Republic of the Congo in respect to gender-based violence is exemplary and they made great efforts. But the ambition is zero cases of gender-based violence – every woman deserves a life of dignity, living in security and achieving her aspirations and being protected. And I think that today, any country that is not a zero is an example of what should not be.

In the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we are fortunate enough not only to have the Minister of Women’s Affairs but also to have the Special Adviser to the President on these issues. Accompanying me in our mission today, is our Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and we also have our AU Representative, Special Envoy to the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Women, Peace, Development and Security. So I believe that we have made progress – there is still more to make, but we have to do this together. And not only do we have to solve the problems of today, we have to prevent it ever happening again. It is not just to stop it, it is also to make sure that it doesn’t happen again in the future. There are a lot of root causes – many of those are inequality, lack of women being able to be independent enough and have the right to lead her own life. She should have a right as every man does. So we hope we can help with that and we can support.