Jul 29, 2019 - Democratic Republic of the Congo

Co creating gender equalityGender equality is nothing but an idea if not put into practice. I understood that quite quickly after having started working. Gender equality cannot be reduced to a concept, a buzz term, or a bullet point on our checklists, it should be a reality. It is one of the greatest challenges of our times because gender inequalities are structural and are to be found in almost every culture. Only their degree vary. Gender inequalities have too long been overlooked and put aside.

Working towards gender equality means operationalising ideas, experimenting.

Working towards gender equality is therefore working towards a better world, which many of us strive to but without gender equality, who's world are we talking about? It would be a beautiful world only for a particular part of the population having the luck (or/and the capacity) to fit into the "right" category. Working towards gender equality means operationalising ideas, putting them into practice, experimenting. This is a crucial step that has to be taken by anyone striving to achieve gender equality.

Last week I was in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of the Addressing Root Causes « ARC INAWEZEKANA - It is possible » programme*. I was there together with Nicolas Haezebrouck, a trainer of The Hague Academy for Local Governance and we could, through this training of trainers, operationalise ideas.

Designing this training was a challenge. Delivering this training was an even bigger one but it worked out! Actually, the success of the training lied at the heart of its design. It built on the realities and experiences of the participants and together, we started co-creating gender equality and inclusive governance in the east Congolese context of local governments and local security. That way participants, who will be trainers themselves, made such ideas their own and this is very powerful.

Discussions were intense and without censure, emotions were shared and vulnerability was shown. These elements were critical if we were to have a constructive and successful week. The combination of awareness raising, knowledge sharing and building didactical capacities was key to the success of this training and hopefully will be key to the success of their own trainings to the local and traditional authorities in the DRC.

After 4 days of training, the participants had the chance to take the floor and show us how they would implement (part of) the training. It was wonderful to see how quickly they adapted the materials to the local context and dynamics without losing sight on the working methodology. Making comparisons we wouldn't even dream of to pass on the message! Only they can really understand the dynamics, cultural sensibilities and other aspects of the context, so they can make the change happen on the ground to achieve gender equality.

After an emotionally intense week of training, I am already looking forward to the next time I'll have the chance to do this. 

*financed by the Kingdom of The Netherlands and implemented by ZOA (lead partner), War Child Holland and VNG International.

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