Shabunda: The UN funds a community radio and a women’s center to raise awareness against gender-based violence – Democratic Republic of the Congo

CARINE TOPE

With funding of $1,500,000 from the United Nations Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund, a community radio and Women’s House were established in Kigulube, Shabunda territory, South Kivu, as part of the WOSH-Women of Shabunda project.

The project was implemented by the Joint Human Rights Office of MONUSCO (UNJHRO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and culture (UNESCO).

The official handover of the Maison de la Femme, the radio and the computer kit by UNESCO took place on July 1, 2022, in the presence of the local authorities, the adviser to the provincial Minister of the Interior, the adviser to the General Commissioner for Gender, the head of the provincial gender division and the local population.

A radio to fight against violence against women

The installation of the community radio aims mainly to sensitize the population to non-violent communication, a source of peace and peaceful cohabitation.

“Through this mass media tool, the United Nations seeks to enable women to denounce all forms of violence and violations against them in this area of ​​the DRC plagued by insecurity”, declared Mathilde Mihigo, representative from the UNJHRO in Bukavu, who took part in the inaugural ceremony.

Shabunda Community Radio also has the mission of building peace through Communication for Behavior Change, and promoting the rights of women in Shabunda, more specifically those in Kigulube, South Kivu.

Mathilde Mihigo underlined that the UNJHRO encourages “women to take ownership of this radio station and to address the profound rights issues that concern them for their development”.

A radio to change mentalities

The journalists working on this radio are unanimous. The advent of this radio will certainly bring about a change in mentalities thanks to the sensitization of the population, as well as a personal change for each of them.

Testimony of Benjamin Mpago

By sensitizing the population on the change of mentalities, we must make it our duty to be actors of the change of mentalities. Speaking of non-violence, we must first be actors who lead by example. We are therefore called to live constantly in positive change.

Since June 30, the Kigulube Women’s Community Radio has been broadcasting on FM 88.0.

On June 30, the day of the official launch, a series of facilitation sessions were conducted to test the quality and reach of the coverage. To the west of Kigulube, the radio broadcasts up to 250 km and reaches certain villages in Maniema, while to the north, south and east, it extends over more than 100 km to the territories of Kabare, Kalehe, Walungu and Uvira, in the city of Bukavu.

The population, the first beneficiary of this project, welcomes this initiative of the United Nations in the region.

A material kit (computer, printer and photocopier, some supplies) was given to the management committee of the Women’s Center in which the community radio is housed.

After the inauguration ceremony, interactive programs with the population were launched.

The host called on women to break their silence and denounce all cases of violence and violations against them.

“This radio is a tool that will allow us to free our languages ​​and to denounce all forms of violence. The perpetrators will only have themselves to blame”, declared one of the women who came to participate in the official launch of the Shabunda community radio signal.

The Women’s Center to popularize legal texts

The United Nations Joint Human Rights Office has provided the Women’s Center with a “human rights” library.

Women were strongly encouraged to consult the manuals to learn about the legal texts on sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence. This Center also has a role of counseling victims.

Women’s groups have been set up to work at the women’s center, including women’s mining cooperatives and women agents of change.

IOM will support women in the area of ​​mining governance at the Shabunda mining sites, UNESCO will work on Behavior Change Communication (BCC) and the UNJHRO will work on the promotion of women’s rights and the fight against all forms of violence.

The head of division in charge of Gender, Family and Children in Shabunda welcomes the installation of the Women’s Center in this landlocked territory of the DRC. Ms. Kumingi Nigo maintains that this center will allow the provincial government of South Kivu to have a reliable database of cases of violence and to pool efforts in the fight against sexual violence.

The women’s center has three branches:

The Women’s Club, which focuses on raising awareness and education on women’s rights;

The consultation framework responsible for monitoring sexual violence, getting closer to rape victims and directing them to the appropriate care institutions;

The Women’s Rights Club, which will be responsible for raising awareness of women’s rights.

Mrs. Kumingi Nigo indicated that the territory of Shabunda recorded several cases of rape and gender-based violence. From January 2020 to September 2021, the division recorded 804 rape cases.

From October 2021 to date, 65 cases of female victims of rape have been reported.

About Michael C. Lovelace

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