Solange Lwashiga, the Rien sans les femmes movement’s national spokeswoman.
Solange Lwashiga, the Rien sans les femmes movement’s national spokeswoman.

Women continue to influence society and politics in the DRC

“To achieve equality, we need to start from equal representation of men and women in decision-making bodies”, says Solange Lwashiga, the Rien sans les femmes movement’s national spokeswoman.

During 2015, 15 women’s right organisations got together to fight for equal representation in Congolese society and politics. They soon formed the movement Rien sans les femmes (Nothing without women) as they started a campaign for instituting gender parity in the electoral law.

“In the DRC, according to an electoral law, political parties electoral lists have to include women for the parties to run in the elections. But a paragraph within the same law opposes this by saying that all lists, with or without women candidates, will be accepted. Of course, the leaders of the parties, especially men, take advantage of this with the excuse that there are no women with political ambitions or that they simply can’t find any female candidates. We want to change this with the parity law,” Solange Lwashiga tells us.

A vast support

The initial mobilization was impressive. In 2015, the Rien sans les femmes movement collected over 200,000 signatures in only three weeks in order to make a petition for an amendment of the electoral law. Soon after, they held their first international representation during the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Council Resolution 1325 where they got a lot of international appreciation. The following year, they started mobilizing to actually implement the law.

“We handed out advocacy documents to political and administrative authorities, requesting that they would appoint women into their institutions,” says Solange Lwashiga.

Only in Bakavu, more than 6000 people mobilized and joined the movement.

Resistance lie in the politics

The biggest challenges that the Rien sans les femmes movement meet lie in the DRC’s fragile political context.

“Last year the elections were stipulated by the Constitution and there are political disagreements between the power and the opposition,” she says.

Nevertheless, the future seems promising for Rien sans les femmes. They have a complete action plan with a lot of initiatives.

“We will also continue our lobbying on both local and national authorities to implement the commitments they have made regarding parity,” Solange Lwashiga adds.

Awarding to authorities

The Rien sans les femmes movement have grown to include 160 women rights organisations. During March this year they held an award ceremony in Uvira football stadium to emphasize authorities that have implemented parity.

“During 2016, Rien sans les femmes pressed authorities to sign letters of commitment so that they would be held accountable for implementing the parity law. We created this award to encourage those authorities,” Solange Lwashiga says.

They are hoping that the ceremony will contribute to the emulation of authorities that have been dragging their feet.

“But we are also very clear on that these trophies are for their progress until today. If they start lagging behind, we will remind them that they have made an obligation to work for parity,” she concludes.

Selvi Albayrak 

Updated in: 2017-04-27