Update on the State of the Implementation of Resolution 1325 in the DRC

March 24, 2014 11:55

The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 by consensus in 2000; this was welcomed by grassroots women's organisations that had been working on peace and security issues long before the Resolution's approval.

The ongoing conflicts that have been taking place in the East of the country since 1996 pushed Congolese women to get involved in national, regional and international advocacy for the peace of the country. This is why large-scale actions were conducted by women at Sun city in 2002, (http://www.irinnews.org/pdf/in-depth/dial_rdc.pdf) paving the way for a more gender-balanced approach in the Constitution (http://www.leganet.cd/Legislation/JO/2006/JO.18.02.2006.pdf).

In 2004, the UN Secretary General asked member states to develop a national action plan for the implementation (the adaptation) of Resolution 1325. It was not until 2005 that the Congolese government, through what was then called the Ministry for Women's Rights (Ministère de la condition féminine), had begun to form training programmes for ministerial servants aimed at elaborating a national plan of action on Resolution 1325. This initiative has been reinforced by a draft action plan produced by women's civil society organisations. This plan was developed and adopted by the government in 2010, a process led by the Ministry of Gender, Family and Childhood, and supported by the UN through UN Women. The national action plan (http://www.peacewomen.org/assets/file/drc_nap_2010.pdf) comprises three levels for the Resolution's implementation: a national steering committee, a provincial steering committe and a local steering committee. Although the plan was created in 2009, it has started to be realised in the provinces only from 2013, through the awareness-raising workshops organised by the national steering committee with the support of the Swedish Embassy.

R1325 in South Kivu

Today, only two provinces in the country have installed their provincial steering committees, Katanga and South Kivu – the latter has organised one workshop to disseminate the national action plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325 with the economic support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). In this context, the government has signed a motion that creates provincial and local steering committees for Resolution 1325 (1).

2014 will be a year of the 'operation of the various committees' for the provincial ministry in charge of gender, health, family and humanitarian affairs ; this period will also see the creation of those territorial committees that have not yet been set up.

The provincial plan of action is being elaborated – its leitmotifs are peace, security, sexual violence, HIV/AIDS, women's rights, women's political participation, consolidation of the rule of law, regional and international cooperation, research, study, monitoring and evaluation. The Minister M. Mwanza Nangunia asserts that she relies for the implementation of the provincial plan on 'the support of the sectorial committees, covered in the 2014 provincial budget, and also on the economic support of external parners such as UN Women, SDC and German cooperation, among many others'.

Mme Solange LWASHIGA, Executive Secretary of the women's caucus for peace at South Kivu and vice-chair of the provincial steering committee, states that 'in order for women to take charge of the local commitees after their formation, it is necessary to consider activities that bring them into close contact and cooperation; so they can discuss issues of peace and their security'.

The challenges

The DRC still has a long way to go for the implementation of Resolution 1325. Regarding the political participation of women, the country has progressed in its adoption of various codes and programmes. However we must recognise that a considerable amount of work is still needed, beyond the recommendation agreed to respect a 30% women quota. In these conditions, and bearing in mind the large gaps that still exist between theory and practice, the need to put in place actions to meet the requirements of Resolution 1325 is an urgent need. Paradoxically, the female population of the DRC is estimated to comprise 52%, whereas men comprise 48%, according to the 2006 census.

Women's representation in decision-making bodies remains unclear. Within the government the presence of women has never been higher than 15%; currently they number five out of a total of 45 members. In the National Assembly, only 42 women are elected out of a total of 500 deputies, giving an average of 8%, while there are five female senators out of 120. Of the 210 parties approved to take part in the legislative, presidential and local elections, only ten political parties have been founded by women.

According to Me Irène ISAMBO from the Research Centre on Justice and Resolution 1325 (CJR 1325), one of the three structures that represent civil society groups in the national steering committee, some achivements can be tracked in R1325's implementation. At the national level, there is the 'existence of a Ministry of Gender, Family and Childhood, although it already existed under other names. Alongside this, the ministry has provincial divisions responsible for the same mission.
The National Council for women, a Congolese state body responsible for monitoring the implementation of conventions and treaties ratified by DRC, has also been created, as well as the National Office for the implementation of Resolution 1325, created in 2009. In addition, legal codes established by ministerial order regulate the organisation and procedures of the national steering committee of 1325; the management of budgets related to the resolution-implementation have been approved; a national strategic document on gender-balance in the development programmes and policies has been updated; various laws, rules, programmes and policies for the promotion of gender and the fight against gender-based sexual violence have been approved and several forums and meetings on the implementation of Resolution 1325 have been organised.
At the regional level, we need to highlight the involvement of the DRC, through the gender ministry, in adopting a sub-regional action plan on Resolution 1325, at the moment taking in three countries – Rwanda, Burundi and DRC with the technical and economical support of FAS (Femmes Africa Solidarités). This has led to the establishment of a sub-regional steering committee, which is open to other countries in the Great Lakes region.

However, once again, the implementaion of all these instruments is still deficient. When analysing the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework agreement for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the region, signed in Addis Ababa on 24 February 2013, it was observed not only that women were not actively represented at the signing, but also – and worse – that the specific needs of women are not taken into account in the commitments made by the Congolese government, http://www.peaceau.org/uploads/scanned-on-24022013-125543.pdf .

In this context the gender ministry and some Congolese women's organisations have held discussions with Ms. Mary Robinson and her representatives to appeal to the signatory group to take gender issues into account in the implementation of the framework agreement.

Financially, during the celebration of the anniversary of 1325 in 2013, a donor roundtable attended by certain government departments was held by the Ministry of Gender, with almost all committing themselves to financially supporting the resolution's implementation. Despite the theoretical and structural efforts made some time ago in the DRC, inequality, gender barriers and cultural obstacles still hinder women's participation in the decision-making bodies, and in the initiatives for peace, security and development.

The number of women's groups and women's movements currently working in DRC is insignificant when compared with the actual and potential contribution of women in development. It is time for Woman to no longer be relegated to secondary roles; on the contrary, she must fully occupy decision-making spaces, from the family unit to the highest levels of political power.

Yvette Mushigo
Lawyer, expert in 1325 , FAF

(1) The provincial agreement N°13/O36/GP/SK du 07/12/2013 for the creation, organisation and procedures of the steering local and provincial committess for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 about women, peace and security , has been signed by the Governor of the South Kivu province.