English translation by community member LightMyWay
Our country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in addition to consecrating Article 14 of the Constitution to the equality of men and women, has ratified several legal instruments further supporting women, notably Resolution 1325 on the political participation of women. The theme, both national and international, of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD 2015) has only served to confirm an insistence on women’s political participation. It also insists on their autonomy so they can participate in decision-making and contribute to the development of the country and to humanity as a whole. Unfortunately, the irrational and unsettling behavior of those in power, who are mostly men, whether in nominative or elected positions, has not favored females in their ability to access this level of decision-making.
The awareness and appeal we are conducting has also been especially useful in other sectors to denounce the general situation of women, which remains very disturbing. This is due to the preservation of backwards traditions, one of the major challenges that keep women in a situation of inferiority and/or incomparable mediocrity. We can see a real problem here of women being excluded from decision-making circles. She has no rights nor any say in the matter.
Thus these actions for awareness and petition (which we will continue to reinforce) have called upon everyone, men, women, young people, local leaders, political party leaders…to request their support for a radical change in mentality and behavior, as well as for a veritable understanding that will favor the political emergence and independence of women.
Obviously where laws are concerned we must act with this coercive power as well. It’s true that at this level there is a lot to make progress on, considering the constitutional provision guaranteeing MALE/FEMALE parity (Article 14 of the DRC Constitution) and the international legal instruments ratified by the DRC. Again it is critical that their implementation be effective and that they be reinforced by other dominant laws like the electoral law and the law on equality.
Unfortunately, in the electoral law that Parliament recently revised, they did not fix the existing mistake that asked political parties to align women on the electoral lists without annulling the lists that did not align women. Instead of positively amending this error by introducing a sanction (the pure and simple cancellation of electoral lists of political parties not aligning women), the new electoral law has simply omitted this provision, which makes women’s chances in the electoral race even more contentious.
As for the law on equality, much progress has been made through appeal campaigns and public pressure to the point of getting the law put to vote in the two houses of Parliament. But the law was once again returned to Parliament by the Congolese Supreme Court of Justice acting as a Constitutional Court, supposedly for being unconstitutional. This thrashed the system of quotas for women introduced by the law in question, which should have propelled things increasingly forward.
The Permanent Framework for the Dialogue of Congolese Women, South Kivu (Cadre permanent de concertation de la femme congolaise, or CAFCO South Kivu) remains persuaded that this situation, however preoccupying and alarming, is not a failure. CAFCO proposes to reinforce strong levels of awareness (especially during this electoral period), coupling activities applying public pressure, and lobbying, which will have an effect on the vote and on the implementation of laws favoring women, but especially activities reinforcing women’s capabilities as far as their political independence goes.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to The Path to Participation Initiative from World Pulse and No Ceilings.