CEDAW Anniversary: Making Women's Equality a Reality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Publication Date: 
20 Dec 2012

In honor of the 33rd anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), IFES colleagues from around the world share their thoughts on gender discrimination in their countries and how they are working to overcome it.

Name: Mamie Patricia Kapinga
Title: Provincial Coordinator
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

How does discrimination against women affect their participation as citizens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

Although the constitution of the DRC makes provisions for parity between men and women with a view to fair and equitable participation in the management of the city (Mbuji-Mayi), this participation remains only theoretical, despite our country’s ratification of treaties on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

We find that women, intelligent and educated as they may be, are still the victims of much abuse and wrongdoing on the part of men, in particular; the societies in which they live, in general; and, specifically here in Kasai Oriental, customs which slow the development, emergence and advancement of women.

For example, consider the representation of women in political institutions. Women are disadvantaged for several reasons, of which the most important are outdated customs and women’s financial dependence on their husbands, who may accuse them of wasting money or view them as unable to stand for elected office and instead as simple housewives with no control even over their own reproductive choices. Women’s participation is just as misunderstood by women themselves, who underestimate themselves, despite being endowed with abilities and potential equal to those of men.

Please tell us about your work with IFES related to combating discrimination against women and promoting women's empowerment.

IFES is an organization that grants equal opportunity during the recruitment process and encourages applications from qualified individuals regardless of gender.

IFES struggles against all forms of discrimination in general – and discrimination against women specifically. If IFES finds that a female candidate has the desired qualifications, they hire her.

On this subject, I can give a clear example that I encountered with IFES. During our recruitment in 2006, 10 candidates were called in – including three women, one of whom was me. I was ultimately chosen as provincial coordinator for Kasai Oriental, and that job granted me psychological, financial and moral independence.

And thus, through its work, IFES contributes to the development and promotion of the participation of women in the Congo and appears to be an employer with a sound model regarding the fight against discrimination. I have never been a victim of discrimination in my work with IFES.