A Community Effort: Ending Gender-Based Violence
Discover more about the Gender-Based Violence prevention work being done in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the progress communities have made with the help of the local church, volunteers and partner organizations in this blog from Program Officer Vanessa Pizer.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, local civil service organizations have been addressing gender-based violence in the wake of decades of civil war. Amidst this complex reality, the local Church is at the forefront of efforts to help heal and prevent further violence.
Working towards healing and transformation begins with determination and a holistic approach. Episcopal Relief & Development’s partner, The Diocese of Aru’s Community Development department, is in its second year of implementing a multi-sector Gender-Based Violence (GBV) prevention and response project in four rural health areas and in the city center of Aru.
Prevention efforts focus on equipping volunteer community mobilizers to educate their wider communities on GBV through awareness events and individual interactions. Volunteers learn how to identify and refer vulnerable women and girls and GBV survivors to known resources and supports. Promoting further awareness and outreach, the program mobilizes student clubs by holding rallies on GBV and equipping groups to lead awareness events in their schools and communities.
The GBV service network is growing through response and support efforts like conducting refresher trainings with health center staff on the national protocols for treating and referring GBV cases. Another key activity is supplying health centers with much-needed rape response kits that contain STI prophylaxes, medicine and medical equipment. Program staff also work closely with law enforcement to raise communities’ understanding of the role police have in the response to GBV. They also support survivors seeking justice by helping with lawyer and court fees.
Community leaders, such as pastors and other church leaders, teachers, village elders and government officials, regularly convene to discuss local GBV cases and issues. Many of these leaders, specifically pastors and lay leaders, are trained by local professionals on how to counsel trauma victims and guide them through the service referral process. The program actively advocates with the regional and national government for improved services and proper enforcement of GBV policies in the region. This year, the program expanded into savings and solidarity groups by making a concerted effort to include vulnerable women and GBV survivors in these activities. Our partners inspire and lead the way with this multi-sector approach, adding to the global effort of healing a hurting world.
Vanessa Pizer is the Program Officer of International Programs at Episcopal Relief & Development.
Images: Top: Young people raise awareness in local communities; Middle 1: Slideshow of GBV workshops; Middle 2: Healthcare agents in training on survivor medical techniques.
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