Women in Peace and Transition Processes: Democratic Republic of the Congo (2001–2003)
The Inter-Congolese Dialogue that took place from 2001 to 2003 formally ended the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)—one of the deadliest armed conflicts since the Second World War. The Dialogue was inclusive, with participants from the main armed conflict parties, unarmed political parties, and civil society. Despite this, the armed conflict parties de facto dominated the decision-making process, which allowed them to advance their own interests. Women’s organizations in the country initially faced difficulties in joining the negotiations due to exclusive selection procedures and negative attitudes towards their presence. With some support from international and regional women’s organizations, they nonetheless managed to deploy strategies to increase the number of female delegates participating in the Dialogue and successfully lobbied for the final agreement to include several gender provisions. Famously, they safeguarded the signing of the agreement in Sun City by forming a human chain to block the exits to the committee room, insisting that the men negotiating inside would not leave until the final agreement was validated.