On Friday, March 8, a march of women in mourning attire was held in the Democratic Republic of Congo to mark International Women’s Day.

Ministra du Genre, Famille et Enfant, Mireille Masangu Bibi Muloko had officially launched the day under the themes, “Increasing the Resources Needed by Women and Girls in Peace for an Equal Congo” and “Investing for Women: Accelerating the Pace”. These two themes evoke the need for effective empowerment of women and girls, a major challenge for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The march was an opportunity to address a number of critical issues facing women in Congo, including gender-based violence, economic and political discrimination, and limited access to education and health care. A major demand of Congolese women remains an end to gender-based violence and impunity for those who commit crimes against women. Finally, despite progress in some areas, women in Congo continue to face significant obstacles in achieving leadership positions and securing economic equality. Protesters therefore called for greater representation of women in decision-making processes and access to economic opportunities.

“We must, as women, engage in the quest for peace so that we do not always see ourselves as victims, but as agents of change, a role that UN Resolution 1325 gives to women.” Mireille Masangu Bibi

The protests were held along the streets of Bukavu, capital of South-Kivu; Bunia, capital of Ituri province. These are places devastated by decades of armed violence. The march comes amid an unstable political framework that threatens to divide the Congolese population internally. Indeed, there is a great distrust of the international community, especially on the part of the younger generation.