This is an event report from our partner Congo Men’s Network (COMEN) in Goma, the Democratic Republic of Congo on their celebration of the International Day on Women, Peace and Disarmament 24 May 2014.
WOMAN, PEACE AND DISARMAMENT
AGENDA OF THE DAY
- Opening Remarks
- Film screening whose title is entitled to return Pray the devil back to hell, LIBERIA
- Panel discussion on women, peace and security.
- Presentation of 18,289 signatures collected around North kivu province on combating sexual and gender based violence.
- Distribution of copies of UNSCR Resolution 1325
The opening word has been given by the program manager of COMEN. He welcomed all the guests and he urged to share their experiences and reflection to build a world without weapons, so that lasting peace reign.
Activity 1 – Film screening
This film chronicles the armed conflicts in Liberia under Charles Taylor government conflicts. The women of Liberia have contributed much by active non-violence, ie non-violent means to influence decision makers to sign peace agreements. They then continued monitoring these agreements until democratic elections during which a woman won the voting. Here are some strategies they used:
- Educate all women without distinguishing of social class, religion, ethnicity, …
- Women have agreed to deny their husbands sexual act, because they are guilty of the wanders by action or omission.
- Women were on a Seat-in the public square until the the president decided to go to Ghana for peace talks
Feed back of the film
The moderator asked the participants what they have learned of the screened film. Here are their responses:
- Unity of women in doing peace advocacy
- The courage of the women up to put their lives in danger, break the chains of fear;
- The impartiality of women in their struggle, they were of any party and their vision was to translate the dream into action.
- Tt is not only weapons that can give peace, non-violent means also succeed;
- This film reflects the reality Congolese women are living in.
- Show this film as an exercise for women and translate it into local languages;
- Popularize the documentary, share it with other organizations working for peace;
- September 21 is the International Day of Peace; if there are means to share and have more screenings of this movie on this day.
- Share this movie with activists who live in rural areas that are still dominated by conflicts.
Activity 2 – Panel Discussion
Here are some questions that participants asked to panelists: A. The more often, women left all the responsibilities to men; what would cause this feeling of underestimation of the woman herself?
Panelists answer: For a long time, the woman had been marginalized; even today, men continue to spread this ideology. That is why the woman is always rejected.
B. Do you believe in female leadership in DR Congo?
Panelists answer: Mrs. Edo answered in the affirmative, saying that Congolese women make lot of effort in organizing other women first in organizations within civil society. Even in the politics of our country, the woman who occupies a space in decision making are doing wonderful job job. Moreover, most women ensure the survival of their household today. The problem is the man who has not yet understood gender equality.
C. Peace building should it be the issue of single women?
Panelists answer: If women band together to advocate for peace, it is because they are much more affected by the consequences of war: they are often raped, their children are conscripted by force in armed groups, their husbands are killed. That is why they are involved in the search for peace.
D. Some people say that women let themselves be raped, what do you say?
Panelists answer: It is really a mockery towards the female victim of sexual violence and rape especially in our province. Those who say so are those who do not accompany survivors. Try in structures that provide medical care to victims of rape, tears will cast your eyes if you have a human heart.
E. Rape is a violation of positive law? is that when it comes to the jurisdiction of the ICC?
Panelists answer: Yes, in our country, rape is punishable by law 018 of July 20, 2006, however, the perpetrator can be prosecuted by the ICC if the rape was committed during the war in violation of the Geneva conventions and international humanitarian law. Any belligerent that targets civilians and uses rape as a weapon of war must be prosecuted by the ICC.
F. What do you say to impunity for rape?
Panelists answer: It is matter of professional awareness. If the victim has filed a complaint, the judge will consider the case impartially. In cases where the perpetrator is guilty, he will be sentenced according to law.
G. The male-female partnership, is it possible to build peace?
Panelists answer: To answer this question, the panelist compares human community to a bird that naturally has two wings; for balancing in space, both wings must be equal. This is our vision for our society: the man and the woman must combine all efforts to build peace and development of our country.
Activity 3 – Presentation of the Report of Signatures Collection of Men during March 2014
As part of the commemoration of March dedicated to women, COMEN led a campaign to raise awareness about sexual violence and gender-based violence. The target group were men and boys of the areas in which COMEN operates. In total, we collected 18,289 signatures of men and boys for their commitment to respect the rights of women and the fight against the abuse inflicted to women and girls.
Activity 4 – Distribution of hard copies of resolution 1325 the Security Council of the United Nations
As part of popularizing UNSCR 1325 COMEN gave each participant the text of this resolution with the various pamphlets and leaflets containing messages and activities carried by The Congo Men’s Network.
In total, 62 participants took part in this activity.
To close the day, the Executive Director thanked all the participants in this international day for Women, peace and Disarmament urging them to put into practice the slogan of the day that says: Peace begins with me.
Goma, 25 May 2014.
Congo Men’s Network Team