Promoting an inclusive mediation process to strengthen resilience and peace in Ituri and North Kivu
November 24, 2022
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), women and youth are the most affected by conflict, yet they are often under-represented in peacebuilding and social cohesion efforts. There is a need for them to be targeted as peace actors in the current mediation process, which is why an Ituri Mediation Advisory Group was established, with the aim of being inclusive and ensuring good representation of women and youth.
Formation of an advisory group is part of a vision of ownership and sustainability of peace efforts by local communities and of strengthening their capacity for conflict resolution. As part of this process, stakeholders were consulted and the results of this approach were validated by provincial actors from public institutions and civil society, including women and youth associations.
Among its recent activities, the group organised a workshop on 29 September, a few days after the International Day of Peace, to relay mediation and negotiation skills to women and youth. Participants were asked “What can be done for the return of peace in Ituri?” In collaboration with the Ituri provincial government, and with the support of the European Union, this meeting took place in Bunia and was facilitated by the mediation consortium composed of Interpeace and its Action for Peace and Concord (APC) partners, and the Congo Research Group (CRG) of New York University (NYU).
According to most of the participants, the workshop was beneficial in contributing to strengthening the involvement of youth and women in the existing peace mechanisms in their province. “Ever since the word ‘communitarianism’ was first used in Ituri, each community has used this word to arm itself to face the opposing community. But this word has already destroyed Ituri. The community should therefore not be a place of identity withdrawal against others but a space for dialogue to live together,” expressed a member of the Ituri Women’s Collective.
This opinion was also shared by the representatives of the public authorities. “This kind of meeting is a good opportunity to raise awareness of the culture of living together,” says Esther Maturu, Deputy Coordinator in Ituri of the Disarmament, Demobilisation, Community Rehabilitation and Stabilisation Programme (P-DDRCS/Ituri).
The advisor to the provincial military governor in charge of youth, Irène Vaweka, reminded the assembly that “for some time now, young people have increasingly become executioners and that women are the main victims. By bringing all these people together around the issue of peace, this workshop presents a golden opportunity for the young people present to show the world that they too can commit themselves to peace.”
Facilitation of the workshop was an important step in the work of the Ituri Mediation Advisory Group towards creating inclusivity spaces for women and youth. The group will continue its efforts to ensure that women and youth have an opportunity to build their conflict transformation skills in their communities.