Pioneering women of peace celebrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Sun City Global and Inclusive Agreement, signed in April 2003, was a significant moment in the peace process to end the Second Congo War. Women from across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) played a vital role in securing this agreement, a role that is only now being fully understood and celebrated.

To mark the twentieth anniversary of the agreement, a commemoration ceremony for these women was recently held, at which a stele was unveiled bearing the names of these pioneering women of peace.

Image of commemorative stele
This Peace Stele now stands at the National Museum of the DRC. It will serve as a source of inspiration for future generations, reminding them that the struggle for peace and gender equality is an ongoing battle. The inauguration of this stele marks an important step in the recognition of women’s invaluable contribution to the peace process.

Fulbrighter Marie-Rose Tshite has been pivotal in expanding our understanding of these women’s contributions. Marie-Rose’s Fulbright award took her to the University of Cincinnati in Ohio for her Master’s degree, where she studied the presence, stories and strategies used by Congolese women to gain access to the peace process from 1998 to 2003. Committed to making this work public, Marie-Rose published COWIP, a digital archive of manuscripts, electronic recordings, photos and newspaper articles that testify to the role of Congolese women in peace building.

Marie-Rose, now Executive Director of the Salama Women’s Institute, then organised a commemoration ceremony to launch COWIP and to unveil a stele of peace at the National Museum of the DRC. The stele was inaugurated by Chantal Yelu Mulop, Special Advisor to the President of DR Congo on Youth, Gender, and Violence against Women. The academic research process has been supported by the University of Cincinnati URC funds and TAFT enrichment award while the event was supported by the DRC’s Ministry of Culture, Arts, and Heritage, the Swiss Embassy in the DRC, the Office for the Study of Women’s Involvement in Achieving the MDGs by 2030 (BEIF-ODD2030), the Association of Congolese Women of Exception (Femmes d’Exception du Congo – FDEC), the UN Women office in the DRC, The MONUSCO Gender office, UNDP, NDI (National Democratic Insititute) and YALI-RDC.

Reflecting on the event, Marie-Rose said:

“The Fulbright program gave me the wings I used, and through the Salama Women’s Institute, it has demonstrated its commitment to gender equality and the promotion of peace, sending a message of hope and unity to the Congolese nation and the rest of the world. It is a powerful reminder that peace can only be achieved when women are fully involved in shaping their country’s future.”

The inauguration ceremony
In this picture, we have the special advisor to the DRC president in Black and the minister of Culture in Yellow clothes with a microphone giving certificates to the Congolese pioneers’ women in recognition of their peacemaking working.
Picture from the inauguration ceremony
The pioneers’ women looking at the archives in the DRC national museum

Picture from the inauguration ceremony