Source: United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)
Some 50 women leaders from the North and South Ubangi districts of Equateur province held a round table discussion at the office of the UN Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO) in Mbandaka on 23 March to establish ways and means of empowering the womenfolk in the society. With "Facilitating Women's Participation in Society" as the theme, the discussion was part of a series of events to commemorate the International Women's Month.
The participants came up with ideas, which in their opinion, can empower them in decision-making processes in society, including at the family, community, and state level.
For the provincial Coordinator of the United Nations Joint Human Rights (UNJHRO), Charlotte Songue, the first step to achieving gender parity in decision-making is to educate women on gender issues in general, and specifically in such areas as access to training, education and equal access to opportunities. The second step, she added, would be to identify the obstacles that should be overcome in order to achieve equality.
The participants provided a set of proposals on how to achieve gender parity in their communities ranging from raising males' awareness about gender issues, empowering women economically through income-generating projects, and enforcing a policy of equal work-equal wages for both sexes.
Against the backdrop of the province's significant indigenous community, who are sometimes marginalised, the participants agreed that this social group, especially women, deserve special attention. They therefore proposed promoting social integration of the Pygmies, and providing education opportunities for Pygmy girls, as well as employment opportunities for Pygmy women. They also proposed diversifying vocational training programs for women in Equateur, as sewing is currently the only option offered by the National Institute of Vocational Training and by the "Maison de la Femme", two institutions that have been involved in the promotion of opportunities for women.