In a country plagued by sexual violence, women and men are starting to combat the root causes by challenging gender norms. While statistics continue to show high levels of violence against women and girls in the Congo, there are positive accounts of women becoming economic actors and winning respect in their communities. Women are challenging the ‘victim’ label, and men are becoming increasingly involved in presenting a more positive side of masculinity and condemning violence.

Hon har fängslats, tvingats i exil och lever under ständigt dödshot – nu får hon svenska regeringens pris. Årets Per Anger-pris tilldelas den kongolesiska människorättsförsvararen Gégé Katana Bukuru för hennes ihärdiga kamp för kvinnors rättigheter i det våldsdrabbade Demokratiska Republiken Kongo.

She has been imprisoned, forced into exile and lives under the constant threat of death – and she is now being awarded the Swedish government’s prize! This year’s Per Anger prize is awarded to the Congolese human rights activist Gégé Katana Bukuru for her persistent fight for women’s rights in the violent Democratic Republic of Congo.

Women’s organisations in the Great Lakes region are calling for change. Women have systematically been neglected and denied access to peace negotiations, security conferences, reform programmes, and high level panels where their own future is being discussed. This needs to change.

The potential of 50% of the Congolese population – its women and girls – to contribute to peace, stability and development in DRC is still not being fully utilized. DRC can hardly afford not tapping this resource.