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Eve in The New York Times: Empower The Women of Congo

Originally published in:
The New York Times


"How to Stabilize Congo"

What is the secret to stabilizing the resource-rich, yet chronically war-torn and violence-ridden country of Congo?

Empower the Women

For as long as the Congolese can remember, the Congo and its people have been colonized, pillaged, extracted, murdered, displaced, robbed and raped. The last 14 years of this hideous onslaught have taken almost eight million lives and been responsible for the rape and torture of thousands and thousands of women. The indifference of the world community in the face of this horror has further exacerbated the problem and decimated the hearts and souls of the Congolese.

The secret to a thriving and stable Congo is first and foremost peace. The short-term way to go about this? End the war. Put pressure on the United States government to stop giving millions to Uganda and Rwanda, two countries involved in financing and training the militias, like the M23, which are occupying, pillaging and murdering the Congolese.

The long-term solution? Look to the women of Congo. At City of Joy, a leadership center in Bukavu for women who have suffered gender violence, I have witnessed the power, generosity and strength of their leadership. I have seen how quickly they change and thrive through healing therapy, learning their rights, literacy training, self defense, civics, computer skills, agricultural training and public speaking.

In less than six months, graduates have returned to their villages and created farming cooperatives, opened orphanages and homes for the aged and infirm, demanded their rights, given speeches, built community and taught what they have learned. What Congo most needs is professionals: teachers, doctors, managers, female police officers, nurses, lawyers, social workers and government leaders. I have witnessed the Congolese staff members at City of Joy, under the excellent direction of Christine Shuler Deschryver and Mama Batchu, develop an impressive skill set and capacity for sharing what they have learned over two years by being supported, trained and trusted.

Eastern Congo is essentially in a state of anarchy. No government, roads, infrastructure or leadership. Provide the resources and get out of the way.

The women of Congo will rise soon, and so will Congo.