MONUSCO Advocates for Positive Masculinity among DRC Security Forces. Photo Monusco/Carine Tope
MONUSCO Gender Section organized on March 31 in Kinshasa, an awareness-raising workshop on the promotion of positive masculinities as a tool in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence. Roughly sixty officers and non-commissioned officers of the Congolese National Police (PNC), the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and members of the civil society attended the workshop.
The aim of the workshop was to bring these officers to serve as positive role models for other men by reacting and standing up against inequalities and discrimination against women in everyday life, said the Acting Chief of MONUSCO Gender Section, Fatou Keita, in her speech during the workshop.
Fatou Keita explained that positive masculinity is an innovative approach that engages and involves men, making them allies in efforts for gender equality and peace building in the context of conflict and/ or post-conflict. She called on participants to promote gender equality and work to reduce all forms of discrimination against women in the police and military forces.
''Gender issues being strongly linked to human rights, full enjoyment of these rights by women will not become real without rethinking the power-relations between women and men within their communities'', she said
Positive masculinity an asset for the creation of a balanced society
The senior commissioner and legal adviser to the General Commissioner of the Congolese National Police, Siadi Matonsi, echoed the importance of factoring in women's needs in the same way as men in the police. However, he drew the attention of the women in uniform present at these meetings in these terms: ''I think that apart from the fact that the police are already campaigning to promote gender equality, I ask you to fight for your rights, because a right is a right (a right is not negotiable) you should know how to claim it''.
The Deputy High Commissioner, Major Jean Marie Kakule, the gender focal point for the Congolese police, took this opportunity to remind the audience that positive masculinity is an important tool for the creation of a balanced and modern society in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He said he was dismayed to note that to date, women and girls continue to suffer from some of the unnecessary habits and customs and suffer violence at all levels. “All this constitutes an obstacle to the development of our country”, he underscored.
He urged his peers, men in uniform, to become pro-Gender, and serve as role models in the society. “Our primary mission is to protect the population and their properties. We cannot protect communities well if we are actors of gender-based violence,” he said. “Pro-gendered men promote gender equality, they use the appropriate language, they make gestures that encourage others to change, whether in the family or in the professional environment. We must all work to achieve this goal,” he added.
Obstacles in the implementation of positive masculinity
The Deputy High Commissioner of the PNC said that in the DRC, several challenges still stand in the way of the implementation of positive masculinity, including the poor commitment of leaders, customary chiefs, clerics, and others.
He warmly welcomed the awareness-raising work done by MONUSCO with the different components of the Congolese society for an effective internalization of the achievements of positive masculinity and the popularization of international legal instruments on the fight against gender-based violence.
In the same vein, the Special Assistant in charge of the fight against sexual violence at the DRC President’s office, Kinkunfi Mboke recalled that the DRC is fully committed to this fight. To back his point, he mentioned the holding of the summit meeting of Heads of State on positive masculinity on masculinity, in DRC, last November 2021. ''These meetings which focused on positive masculinity were initiated by the DRC President and former Head of the African Union”, he specified.
Mr. Kinkunfi recalled that the summit meeting issued the Kinshasa Declaration on the fight against violence against women and girls. This constitutes a significant step forward for the DRC, he underlined, closing his remarks.