Active Women for Environmental Protection (FAPE) is an associate member of Dianova International, dedicated to defending women’s rights
“Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives”. Under this theme the International Women’s Day, the 8 of March, will seek to vindicate the essential role women play in society, defend gender equality and condemn all types of subjugation and violence against them.
Dianova’s associate member in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, FAPE, is an organization dedicated to defending women’s rights in this country where a belief deeply-rooted in society still denies women access to independence, while they have to live in subservience to men.
The following text describes this reality, through the eyes of FAPE:
Active Women for the Protection of the Environment (FAPE)
Mboko, QI, Fizi, South Kivu – Democratic Republic of Congo – E – mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com – Tel. +243844025272, 0850717333
We must eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls and recognize the intrinsic value of every human being.
Every woman possesses a value as an individual and not simply because she is a woman.
Gender equality can be a powerful force for world development, growth and poverty reduction.
Women Active for the Protection of the Environment (FAPE) is an organisation of women and girls from the peasant community, working in the province of South Kivu, Fizi territory, a region located to the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. FAPE is a militant organisation whose members conduct actions to defend gender equality everywhere it is necessary, that’s why it cannot remain indifferent to actions carried out for the empowerment of women and the eradication of violence against women and girls around the world.
Inequalities between men and women are a barrier to women’s and girls’ empowerment and social development.
In our region, the challenges faced by women and girls in their development go back decades. Women and girls are often the victims of injustice, egoism, stigma, discrimination and many social inequalities.
On account of this situation, women often retreat into themselves, feel marginalized, locked in a straitjacket from which they cannot escape. Because of these experiences, women, whether mothers, wives or daughters, experience forms of violence that have become normal and familiar to the entire community, to the point of concealing horrific situations. As for men, they are often the ones who carry out these violent acts and who take advantage of these selfish social norms.
In fact, the view is that women cannot fully enjoy their human rights simply because they were born women; this view amounts to flouting the very essence of human rights.
The conditions of women and girls in our region
How are women and girls treated in the region where we are operating?
Women are viewed as machines dedicated to men’s pleasure:
- The woman is considered to be a person created for the sole purpose of providing pleasure to the man, whatever the circumstances
- The man is considered to be the supreme leader; he issues the orders and the woman carries out his orders, without ever complaining.
- The woman is considered to be an object; she can be accepted because she provides a service, or she can be rejected at any time and for no reason, according to the will of the man.
For example, after a grueling day spent working in the fields or cleaning other people’s homes, the woman is obliged to sexually satisfy her husband if he wishes, even against her will.
The woman is at the service of her husband and her in-laws
- By getting married, the woman places herself at the service of her husband and all her in-laws. If she does not obey them, she is immediately judged to be bad and rebellious.
- The woman has no option other than to depend on the man. It is said that “without a man, a woman is a tree without roots, which could fall any time.”
The woman is the private possession of the man
- The woman works for the sole interest of the man; the man is the boss and the woman works for him. Everything that the woman produces can only be used to benefit the man, in order to increase the number of women working for him.
The community considers the woman:
- To be a weak creature, dependent on the man to develop and flourish. Without the man, the woman’s potential is limited because it is up to the man to define the woman’s personality.
- The daughter is only viewed as a source of the income she may earn for the family through her dowry.
The way in which women and girls are viewed and treated in our region originates from:
- Backward customs
- Pre-established social norms
- The woman’s underestimation of herself
- The lack of education of women and girls
The commitment of the FAPE association
‘Active Women for the Protection of the Environment’ (FAPE) is committed to investing in the education of women and girls in order to achieve sustainable community development.
- Gender inequality is an obstacle to the education of women and girls
- Women and girls have the right to receive a complete education; to deprive them of this education is to create barriers to sustainable development.
Women in need are provided with accelerated literacy classes in order to meet the challenge posed by their lack of education.
For women, the success of the next generation depends on the actions implemented today in all areas. FAPE’s attention is focused on girls from their earliest age. Upbringing and education are vitally important. Without education, the future generation will not be able to address the challenges of the future. The education of young girls is a powerful weapon for their empowerment, but unfortunately discrimination poses insurmountable obstacles to the education of girls, so boys are too often given priority. This is the reason why our activities aim to be holistic, to promote education and combat discrimination.
Adolescence is a critical period, especially for girls, but unfortunately, the many difficulties they encounter prevent them from discovering their potential and achieving their dreams. Moreover, the violence they suffer will influence their choices and their future: one girl will be taken away from school in order to give priority to her brothers or sisters, another girl will have to marry at an early age, etc. Social inequality and patriarchal social values are detrimental to the development of women. That’s why we want to awaken in young people and educators an awareness of the importance of education for the development of women and the economic and social development of the country.
Training for the empowerment of women
Our programme for the empowerment of women is very successful in our community. The empowerment of women is one of the cornerstones of equality between the sexes. Promoting women’s education, training and professional development helps to ensure their independence.
We must fight to achieve the eradication of violence against women and girls, not only in our community but also throughout the world.