“Power to the people” – Congolese stakeholders discuss the impacts and challenges of Localizing UNSCR 1325 in their communities ahead of the national elections

“Power to the people” – Congolese stakeholders discuss the impacts and challenges of Localizing UNSCR 1325 in their communities ahead of the national elections

“Power to the people” – Congolese stakeholders discuss the impacts and challenges of Localizing UNSCR 1325 in their communities ahead of the national elections

October 4, 2018 by Dinah Lakehal*

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

In the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the number of women appointed as provincial ministers increased from 0 in 2013 to 3 in 2018. In the same province, governor Marcellin Cishambo created a committee solely for the organization, function, and implementation of UNSCR 1325. In Katanga, traditional chiefs have begun to regularly include UNSCR 1325 in their work, as well as increasingly include women in their local security council. At the national level, fifty women were trained specifically to increase their participation in politics. These are just some of the impacts that Localization of UNSCR 1325 facilitated by GNWP between 2013 and 2015 had on the lives of Congolese women. Supporting local women as leaders and active agents of peace is all the more important in DRC, where women regularly face physical, sexual, economic, social, cultural, and political marginalization; and where regional peace and security challenges are felt by local communities from North to South Kivu.

DRC has adopted its second generation National Action Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on September 8th, 2018. However, the institutional and cultural resistance to its effective implementation persists on many levels throughout the country. This is compounded by the social and political developments happening, such as the recent decentralization structure, and the upcoming and highly anticipated presidential elections. All these elements make this a critical time for GNWP to evaluate and reinforce the implementation of WPS resolutions in DRC.

On October 1-3, 2018, GNWP, in partnership with the Cadre Permanent de Concertation de la Femme Congolaise (CAFCO), and with support from the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program of the Global Affairs Canada, organized a workshop to evaluate the progress and impact of the Localization program to date, and to identify remaining gaps and recommendations for the future. The workshop brought together grassroots women activists, local and national authorities, and traditional leaders, who took part in the Localization program in South Kivu and Katanga in 2013, as well as representatives from North Kivu and Province Orientale, who plan to implement the strategy in their communities. Among the participants were several women who are campaigning for national and provincial parliamentary elections scheduled for December, and whose insights and perspectives were invaluable.

The participants asked themselves, “what were the most significant changes, both positive and negative, following the Localization programme in 2013? What were the successes and gaps in each province?” The exercise resulted in lively and engaging discussions over the evidence of the impacts. In South Kivu, the strategy contributed directly to raising awareness and taking ownership of UNSCR 1325 by authorities at the local and provincial level, and a Steering Committee for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 was established by the provincial government. In Katanga, Localization increased the ownership of UNSCR 1325 by local authorities and traditional leaders, who have begun regularly including UNSCR 1325 in their work, appointing women in leadership positions, and in their local security council. At the national level, the commitments made during the Localization workshop in 2013 contributed directly to the successful advocacy for the inclusion of marginalized groups, such as youth and women with disabilities, as groups of concern in the most recent National Action Plan. In addition, a local civil society organization, CONAFED, undertook a program to train 50 young women for political participation. Another significant contribution was the nomination of the first women generals in the national police and army.

The participants also discussed the remaining challenges such as the failure to implement some of the laws and policies due to a lack of budget. To counter that, the participants worked in groups disaggregated by province to produce a set of concrete recommendations, which will be shared with local and national stakeholders. The delegations from North Kivu and Kinshasa also planned to implement Localization and develop local action plans within their provinces.

“Decentralization and Localization go hand in hand; they are both about giving more power to the people,” –this message, highlighted by Professor Mukendi Munti from the Ministry of Decentralization, resonates particularly strongly in the Congolese context. The evaluation workshop has generated invaluable insights and reinforced the commitment to continue the implementation of the WPS agenda at the local level, and GNWP will continue to support the local stakeholders, and work with participants to ensure that their concrete commitments will be materialized into actions.


*Dinah Lakehal is a Program Officer at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP).