A Window of Opportunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Incorporating a Gender Perspective in the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Process

Saturday, September 17, 2005
Emily Schroeder
Central Africa
Congo (Kinshasa)

As the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) balances in limbo between ongoing conflict and peace, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, repatriation and resettlement (DDR(RR)) process is underway. The aim is to provide a viable way of life for former combatants whose main source of survival has been by way of the gun. To date, this process has been focused on addressing the needs of armed men, while less priority has been given to those of women. The ideology of equally including perspectives, impacts and needs of men and women has been evolving at the United Nations through the concept of ‘gender mainstreaming'. This paper argues that gender mainstreaming of DDR(RR) processes is a transformative concept, in which equal attention to women and men in the theory, policy and practical implementation are all crucial to the success of DDR(RR) processes. The DRC is a threshold case in this context, as the UN mission, since March 2002, has a Gender Unit actively contributing to the inclusion of gender considerations in the DRC's DDR(RR) process. Despite ongoing fighting in the eastern regions of the DRC, several developments in recent months have sparked new hope for post-conflict recovery, including the adoption of a national DDR plan and the move towards a nationally integrated military structure. Therefore, the moment is ripe to assess ways in which gender mainstreaming can be further incorporated into this DDR(RR) process.

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Window of Opportunity for the DRC