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02.08.2022

Voices for democracy

Local institutions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo lack legitimacy. Participation is particularly limited for women. Dialogue and inclusion bring the two together.

More than 100 million men and women live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, women are under-represented in politics. This is particularly evident in Kasaï Oriental Province, where only two of the 16 districts are governed by women.

Aiming to promote legitimacy, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is committed to increasing women’s participation. On behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office, it is improving participation in political decision-making and championing women holding management positions. To this end, it has already trained 120 managers and civil society stakeholders, and it supports women in getting involved in local politics and taking on leadership positions. The work is clearly having an impact, as the number of women working in local government in Kasaï Oriental Province has doubled in the meantime.

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Working together for democracy

In collaboration with civil society organisations, GIZ is promoting social exchange in the run-up to the 2023 local elections in the Province of Haut-Katanga. It brings politicians and the Congolese population together in public dialogues in which everyone can participate. More than 2,000 interested parties, with equal numbers of women and men, have participated in almost 40 dialogues. They present their concerns and are listened to. Antoinette Kilambe, aged 61, is often among them. The issue that is important to her is security. ‘The authorities take my suggestions regarding security issues seriously. That encourages me to get more involved in the dialogues and to bring along my friends.’

The exchange makes politics tangible and easier to understand, while allowing integration of the population’s specific interests. Jean Luc Kayoko manages the organisation that runs the dialogues: ‘The citizen dialogues enable people to voice their concerns and participate in government. The authorities listen to them and improve policies.’

The training courses for municipal managers and the broad-based participation of all citizens are laying the foundations for democratic involvement in shaping policies. While conflicts are currently occurring in the east of the country, the work in the Kasaï Oriental Province and Province of Haut-Katanga is strengthening the political legitimacy of governmental institutions before the upcoming local elections.