Women play an important role in preventing violence and building peace. However, women are also often among the most vulnerable members of communities facing violent conflict. By promoting female leadership and equipping communities to address gender based violence, we amplify local efforts to enhance the wellbeing of communities in central Africa.
Promoting Women’s Leadership in Peace Committees
As with all of our work, promoting women’s leadership begins with local Peace Committees. Invisible Children encourages diversity, particularly the active involvement of women, within Peace Committees. With diverse members, Peace Committees are better equipped to address needs across their communities. It’s especially important for vulnerable groups, including women, to be represented.
Invisible Children trains Peace Committees and communities on gender based violence, and the rights of women. The training provides information on recognizing and preventing gender based violence. We also provide information on local laws related to gender based violence and tools for supporting survivors.
Equipping Women and Communities to Prevent and Address Gender Based Violence
These trainings equip women in vulnerable communities to prevent gender based violence and support one another in seeking justice. In many communities, young women, like Marie* in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), are using the training to raise awareness and advocate for each other.
“My girlfriends and I participated in the Invisible Children training on gender based violence. Since then, we are sharing what we learned with our friends and classmates at school. We remain engaged and we now know how to denounce cases of sexual violence.”
In other communities, Invisible Children trainings have helped local communities develop strategies to support survivors of gender based violence. For example, members of one local peace committee developed plans to help young survivors of rape remain in school.
“This training opened our eyes. Now that we are more aware of what gender based violence is, we know how to refer our daughters to medical centers as well as centers that can help them continue their studies despite pregnancy.”
Training Men to Prevent Gender Based Violence
Training men on how to prevent gender based violence is also important. This ensures that gender based violence is not seen as a “women’s issue” but as a community issue. We designed the trainings to highlight how advancing the rights and safety of women helps improve the wellbeing of the whole community. In trainings, we equip and encourage men to take on their own role in supporting the safety and wellbeing of women in their communities.
In one community, a local male chief expressed how Invisible Children’s training impacted his outlook:
“This training has greatly opened my ears and eyes. Before, we didn’t know how to live with women; we had done too much harm to our women. From this training, I know how to live with my wife; how to communicate with her. As the local chief, I ask for forgiveness on behalf of all the men for all the harm done to our women. I will go and sensitize my community and encourage other men to stop taking actions that harm women. The topic of gender based violence in our community is taboo, but today, my community and I are inspired and edified.”
Accounting for the Needs of Women Across Programs
Promoting female leadership and supporting women does not end with training Peace Committees on gender based violence. Invisible Children designed programs to account for gender and vulnerabilities among women. Our team makes sure that women play an active role in conflict mediation and peace building work. We support economic opportunities tailored to the needs of women. Invisible Children psychologists provide mental health support to women impacted by violence. Across the spectrum of our work, women and other vulnerable groups remain the focus.
We are amplifying the impact of all of our programs by equipping communities to promote the safety and agency of women. Your support makes it possible.
Programs described in this blog are made possible with the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this post are the sole responsibility of Invisible Children and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.