Gender & SGBV

Healing past traumas and elevating the status of women and girls.

Gender & SGBV in the DRC

Gender and SGBV in the DRC are cross-cutting themes for improving maternal and child health. Inequality contributes to increased health risks of women and girls in the DRC. Socio-cultural norms place women and girls at a lower social status than men. This limits women’s livelihood options and exacerbates power dynamics that favor men. To survive, they may turn to sex work and other forms of informal income that increase the risk of SGBV and infections such as HIV.

Background

Years of conflict have fostered an environment where SGBV is common in the DRC. According to the most recent DHS survey in the DRC more than half of women have experienced physical violence. Furthermore, nearly 60% have experienced spousal violence. Many women and girls become pregnant and/or infected with HIV as a result of rape. This dramatically alters their futures, livelihoods, and prospects.

More than half of the women in DRC have experienced physical violence and nearly 60% have experienced spousal violence.

DHS 2013-2014

Extreme poverty and traditional cultural beliefs and practices put girls at risk for early marriage. The importance of marrying a virgin, dowry payments to the bride’s family, and polygamy are a few examples. These are all linked with adverse health outcomes related to maternal morbidity and mortality. On average girls get married at the age of 16 and 27% of girls aged 15-19 already have a child or one on the way. Low usage and access to modern contraceptives result in a high adolescent fertility rate.
 
Many parents value their daughter’s virginity before marriage. These parents often decide not to send their daughters to school out of fear that men will rape or solicit them. This and other socio-cultural beliefs and practices limit girls’ educational prospects. As a result, the literacy rates among young women lag behind men’s. As long as gender inequity persists in the DRC, women and girls will continue to be at risk for sexual and gender-based violence. This is why ASSP views gender issues as essential across all areas of the project.
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3,738

PEP kits were distributed to SGBV survivors to help protect them from contracting HIV.

How ASSP is Working to Improve Gender and SGBV in the DRC

ASSP is improving gender and SGBV in the DRC by integrating women’s needs and access to care in the design of all of its programs. This included lowering cost for women to access health care, designing health facilities to assure they were appropriate for women’s needs, representation in community governance, priorities in access to water, and employment in construction teams.

Key Achievements

Fistula Repair

3,418 women with fistula benefited from restorative surgery during ASSP with a general success rate of 93%.

Most of these women had lived with fistula – ashamed and often isolated from their communities – for more than four years, largely due to barriers to accessing treatment.

Community Scorecards

The community scorecard program continues to give a voice to communities while also being an instrument for improving gender equity in healthcare delivery, as subgroups of women are established to make sure that they have weight in community health care decisions.

PEP Kits

ASSP provided 3,738SGBV survivors with post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) kits to help protect them from contracting HIV.

family planning

ASSP continually outperformed in its provision of family planning services, a key activity in the effort towards gender equity by giving women choice and control over their reproductive schedules.

1,680,128 new acceptors of modern methods of family planning were recruited throughout the course of the project.  

Girl Rising film

IMA partnered with the USAID-funded Engage project to focus on behavior change communication surrounding gender issues in a unique way. The Engage project came to IMA in need of help to fulfill their mission of showing the Girl Rising film in DRC. The film, which seeks to encourage girls’ education, has been shown to an estimated 700,000 people through ASSP’s Ambassador Program.

Promoting the status of women

Women have been hired and promoted to supervisory roles. They are actively participating in ongoing construction sites and represent 10%-30% of all construction workers. Although there is much more work to be done, these types of changes can slowly erode gender inequity over time.

read more about our work to promote the status of women in the drc

Publications

Gender & SGBV

Girl Rising, ASSP-ENGAGE Final Report – March 2017 (pdf)