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  • Writer's pictureRox Madeira

Films for Justice: Empowering Women in the DRC

Our most recent programme at Movement in Thyme is the Solidarity for Justice events.  These events raise awareness of issues around the globe, connect the audience live with people from across the world and raise awareness of the speakers project. This platform provides the speakers with an opportunity to ask the public to take action to support them, their country or project and to help challenge the hostile environment developing in the UK for refugees by sharing their experiences from their home countries and helping to increase awareness here. Our aim is to work against the imperial systems that try to separate and dehumanise us and to work in solidarity with other social justice organisations worldwide.

On Friday evening we ran another Films for Justice event, this time looking at the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  As we watch the horrific genocide in Palestine, it is important to remember there is also one occurring in the DRC, a forgotten genocide which we are not seeing due to low reporting and a lack of people there owning smart phones and sharing pictures directly to our screens.  Currently, 6.7 million People in the DRC are internally displaced and 400,000 women are raped each year, the highest rate of sexual violence in the world.  

The situation in the Congo is being exacerbated by the West's drive for progress in becoming more ‘green’.  Our desire for electric cars, for example, is having a devastating impact on the people and land in the Congo. Tens of thousands of people are employed by multinational corporations to mine cobalt, copper and coltan in unsafe, life threatening work conditions to source the resources needed to make lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. The fallout from these mines is also having disastrous environmental effects on the surrounding land and waters.

Our speaker for the evening was Freddy, the Co-founder and Director of Women Concern, live from the Congo.  He set up the charity after witnessing first hand the inequalities experienced by women and girls.

In my home village, less than 1% of my female colleagues, managed to complete their primary education. In their teenage years (no more than 17 years old), they had all become women and their future was thus blinded. Added to this are concerns related to armed violence committed against women in our country and more particularly in its eastern part. For more than two decades, the Eastern part of our country has been plunged into armed conflicts following multiple armed groups that have proliferated and weakened communities there, especially women and girls, through sexual violence, which has also become a weapon of war. Women Concern was born from that bad experience accumulated since my childhood in the village, that I even found supported by the laws and governance, traditions and culture around the whole DRC and which is linked to social constructs that hinder the development of women and girls by limiting their personal development as well as their inclusion in the social, cultural, economic and political life of the country. Women Concern stands out to restore the dignity of the mother of humanity, woman.”

Freddy told us about the various projects and initiatives they run to empower women to run their own businesses and make a difference in their society.  For example, they set up committees of women peace ambassadors and empower them with negotiation and conflict resolution skills.  In another project they help women to set up a business making and selling reusable sanitary pads. This project not only empowers the new business women with income to feed her family or buy medicines, but also enables the women receiving the pads to continue going to school or work during their monthly bleed, giving her more freedom and control.

Movement in Thyme has partnered with Women Concern to work on their environmental project where we will be helping rural women in their area to regenerate the soil, grow medicinal and culinary plants and to diversify women’s livelihoods.

Women Concern are currently setting up their online donation systems but if you would like to donate to them please get in contact with us and we will let you know once they have these in place.  Even small donations can make a huge difference to someones life.

You can read more about Women Concern here. You can support us to support them by attending events and workshop, buying our products or donating to our projects supporting marginalised groups at home and overseas. Find out more here.

Rox Madeira is the Founder of Movement in Thyme and acts as a Director and Facilitator across multiple projects.

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