Congolese Women Absent In Decision Making Positions
The DRC constitution support Gender equity. By its section 14: "…The state must" take steps to address all forms of violence against women in public and private life "and ensure" full participation of women
in the development of the nation "and particularly to ensure the" right to
meaningful representation in national, provincial and local institutions…" Still, these are just catch phrases. Cultural barriers are most prevalent though men and women are trying to catch the new realities of the modern world. The Congolese women and girls are still facing different kinds of Gender based violence, among which sexual violence to the extent that the country has been labeled “the rape capital of the world”. Or “the worst place for a women to be’’. The Congolese women are underrepresented at all levels of decision making. Whereas an estimated 55% of informal sector is occupied by them. Being the majority of the Congolese population, women should be more represented at all levels, but still virtues don’t give them enough chances, even women themselves don’t give their trusts in their fellows. Therefore, they don’t vote for them.
From politics to administration their representation is still insignificant and the country management is getting worst, proving that men have failed.
It is true that both Congolese men and women are free either to join a given political party or start their owns. However, it is at some conditions. To set a political party, convince people to adhere, even to campaign one needs significant means. Whereas, the Congolese woman, in general does not have access to resources, though they are the ones holding the economical side of most households in the country. She is more in informal sector for survival. This is why men, who have been on the political arena and on good positions for years, are likely the ones to remain.
Though the majority of the Congolese population is made of women, female candidates do not take advantage of this potential. The female voter is more quantitative than qualitative; many of whom are illiterates, lack political maturity and become a prey to politicians manipulations. In addition, there is a bad perception of Congolese women on politics. Even some educated women do not want to involve in politics because they think it is full of corruption and good for prostitutes.
During the last Congolese legislative and presidential elections, November 2011, I talked to many women and was not able to convince any of them that the woman can be as good in politics as man because of such prejudices. In Goma town, capital city of North Kivu Province, 285 candidates competed for the six seats in national parliament, but no single woman was elected. The reality in other provinces is not very different.
After independence, girls were good for marriage, whereas boys were sent to school. This is how men came to be on top of the public administration and other national institutions. It is easy to see even today some figures that have been there for half of century or their sons. Things have changed, women and girls are more and more sent to school, but men are not ready to yield their leadership to women. Very few women have been able to achieve some leadership position in public administration. Some women are wise, skilled and have a lot of experience; unfortunately they do not have the required education level. Such women could be more involved in customary power which it is not conditioned by education; but there too, they are not accepted apart from some exceptions, no matter what their wisdom is.
Men have been leading the country for years, things are getting worst, the country is among the most corrupted ones and the poorest despite all the potential resources it has. This is a reason why I think we could give women a try. Let alone that, women make the majority of the Congolese population, much more reason why they should be involved in decision making. Otherwise their specific needs cannot be addressed and many other social issues.
Some efforts have been made by the government in promoting gender equity, but there is still a lot to be done. I would suggest to the government to involve women in decision making at all levels for good governance and thus kick off a sustainable development. There is a big need to focus on their capacity building and encourage education gratuity for them. In addition, the government should add on its priorities the need to sensitize women to be more involved in politics so as to change, together with men, the bad perception of Congolese politics. Women involvement and access to decision making levels will encourage the coming female generations, therefore the paradigm will disappear.
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