“Political engagement requires active participation rather than relying on favours. Women should start by getting involved in political activism within political parties and their local communities. This way, when positions are distributed, they are considered for these roles," said Castro Kambulu, an elected representative from Kasai province. Kambulu's statement highlights the challenges faced in promoting gender integration and female leadership. This comment followed a political dialogue held in Tshikapa in May, organised by the Action for Peace and Concord (APC) in partnership with Interpeace and in collaboration with the provincial government. The meeting aimed to implement the project "Strengthening Women and Girls' Leadership for Peace Consolidation in Kasai and Kasai Central" in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), funded by the United Nations Secretary-General's Peacebuilding Fund (PBF).
Led primarily by women, this dialogue provided an opportunity for the 65 participants, including 27 women, to create an action plan for the upcoming elections scheduled later this year. The plan includes a campaign to disseminate texts safeguarding women's and young girls' rights as well as advocacy efforts to ensure gender parity in decision-making positions. Similar strategies will be employed with traditional authorities to eliminate practises that hinder women's participation in politics.
The coordinator of the Binadamu Foundation in action emphasised that leaders and parliamentarians at the provincial level must support this cause by passing policies that promote women's rights. However, the provincial minister of transport and public works, Marie Kinda Kumambange, urged women to take charge of their own destinies, criticising a passive and victimised mindset among some women. She encouraged them to become fighters and refrain from complaining.
During the dialogue, discussions also revolved around legal instruments for promoting women's and girls' rights, such as United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 2250, specific provisions of the family code and parity law, the Constitution of the DRC, labour laws, and gender-based violence. Working groups were formed to develop a roadmap outlining practical solutions to enhance women's and girls' political involvement at both the provincial and national levels. Participants included provincial deputies, members of the Kasai provincial government, representatives from United Nations agencies, social actors, international organisations, certain traditional authorities, and delegates from civil society organisations.