Vitalité et réalités : mouvement des femmes africaines

CanadaBurundiRépublique Démocratique du CongoRwanda

 CECI organized a conference last week in Montreal with representatives of the partner organizations of its EDUFAM project. Representatives of six organizations from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda discussed the challenges and achievements of the women's movement in the region.

The EDUFAM project is implemented in areas particularly affected by the displacement crisis, where displaced persons and refugees cohabit with local communities: Fizi territory in the DRC, Kirehe district in Rwanda and Gasorwe commune in Burundi. The project aims to facilitate access to quality education for girls, adolescents and women, to increase their retention in school environments adapted to their needs, and to increase their capacity to participate in decision-making and to defend their educational rights. Ultimately, the EDUFAM project will empower nearly 25,000 girls, adolescent girls and women (including refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees and people with disabilities).

Several points came out of the conference, including the fact that each country evolves with its own realities and constraints. In Rwanda for example, several laws have been revised in favour of women's rights. Thus, the legal framework is present, but the application of these laws remains difficult. For the moment, the social context and social norms hinder their effective implementation on a daily basis. However, some of the project's achievements are recognised by the local authorities, but the process of changing mentalities is still long. On the other hand, in Burundi, the foundations for women's rights have been laid, but other laws still need to be improved. For example, there are no laws on inheritance for women and girls, and a draft law is underway, revived after a long period of neglect.

For the DRC, gender-based violence is not taken into account in their law on sexual violence and is the subject of discussion in the draft law currently being adopted. 

The added value of the EDUFAM project is to act directly on the access and retention of young girls in school. It places particular emphasis on the transformation of social norms with the integration of gender-sensitive textbooks and pedagogy that take into consideration gender-based differences, the establishment of individualised follow-ups, or the establishment of levels of vulnerability to better accompany young girls. The "social contract" approach uses local resources for community resilience in the face of barriers to accessing and maintaining girls in school.

"To educate a woman is to educate a whole nation" says James Emman Aggrey.


It has been three years since the project began and the results are already visible. More than 2,000 girls have been reintegrated into the school curriculum, and others have been rehabilitated for vocational training. There are still stereotypes, for example in trades not traditionally intended for women such as bricklaying or mechanics, but girls have graduated in these fields and are now being integrated into society. Action also continues in communities where education remains a major issue and female illiteracy is low. 

In most of the countries in the African Great Lakes region, laws on the protection of women's rights are being drafted or are in the process of being adopted. Governments are in favour of changing the situation of women, but advocacy is needed to support the draft laws. CECI continues to provide technical and financial support to these women's movements in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, and supports their efforts to improve the status and condition of women and girls in the region.

This meeting was held within the framework of the Education of Girls for a Better Future (EDUFAM) project carried out by CECI in consortium with the Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie (FPGL) and the Voluntary Cooperation Program (PCV).

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