HEAL Africa’s Gender and Justice initiatives tackle the root causes of gender inequality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Through decades of war and centuries of exploitation, traditional social and community structures have broken down. Most of today’s Congolese women are unaware of their rights. HEAL Africa activity promotes these rights and educates communities about these rights.
The Gender and Justice program is based on two premises:
First, HEAL Africa partners with the American Bar Association to reinforce the legal and judicial system at the provincial, territorial, and community levels so that victims of sexual violence obtain justice. Additionally, the community receives the clear message that sexual violence in any form is not tolerated.
Second, HEAL Africa equips religious and community leaders, through gender and justice training, to be advocates for change and mobilizers of their communities in promoting gender equity.
Third, HEAL Africa creates opportunities for men to engage in dialogue and reflection in order to counteract the way culture, religions, and schools have socialized many of them to develop oppressive attitudes towards women. The process helps men and boys develop a more collaborative form of masculinity.
Fourth, HEAL Africa works closely with primary and secondary schools in the North Kivu and Maniema provinces to train teachers and create youth clubs that provide a safe environment for young boys and girls to discuss gender-related issues and learn about the benefits to both of a more egalitarian social structure.
HEAL Africa recognizes that gains in gender equity and a functioning judicial system will take place only if the whole community is actively involved and strives for inclusiveness in its gender and equality efforts.