This regional project aims to increase protection and respect for the physical and moral integrity of girls and young women in the Great Lakes region. The project is divided into three components: (1) the development and implementation of protocols for assisting victims; (2) community awareness-raising through education, training, and political dialogue in order to promote a change in the way victims are perceived and treated; (3) support for the Coalition of Collectives of Associations Working for the Advancement of Women in the Great Lakes Region (COCAFEM/GL). COCAFEM/GL is a network of 11 collectives of women’s organizations from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. The network brings together the associations with the most experience in combatting violence towards girls and young women in the region. The goal of this project is for COCAFEM/GL to become recognized nationally, regionally, and internationally for its influence in the fight against sexual violence. This component represents the second part of CIDA’s contribution to the project, which is worth $13.5 million in total. The activities continuing in this component were initiated in component number A033944-001 (Combatting Violence Against Girls and Young Women in the Great Lakes Region – I).
The results obtained until March 2017 include: (1) 36 media outlets were used to broadcast COCAFEM/GL messages this year (exceeding the target of 30); (2) 13 grant applications were submitted over the course of the year, 4 of which received a positive response, 2 were rejected, 2 concept notes were accepted, and an invitation to respond to a call for proposals was issued; (3) of 11 legal cases before the courts, 8 were closed (2 in DRC and 6 in Rwanda), including 7 in favour of the victims. Since the beginning of the project, 237 legal decisions were rendered out of the 812 complaints submitted (29%); (4) 416 beneficiaries received financial support for socio-economic reintegration; and (5) among the 520 couples who received training on equality between women and men, 70% of women and 73% of men testified to positive changes in Burundi, 63% of couples in DRC testified that they now live in harmony, while 84% of couples affirmed the same result in Rwanda. (2) More victims of SGBV were able to access key medical, psychosocial and legal services than expected over the reporting period. For instance, in RDC alone, over 1,080 women accessed services when the project had targeted 840; (3) A total of 676 community leaders, have been sensitized to the types of SGBV, their causes and consequences, services available for treating victims of SGBV and their role as leaders in preventing and addressing this violence. A preliminary evaluation of these sensitization activities reveal changes in attitude among some leaders as they admit that the campaigns opened their eyes to forms of violence they had not condemned in the past and attest to the fact that they will now set the example of what is acceptable, starting with their own households; (4) Support to the COCAFEM/GL has resulted in the development of a firm partnership with the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a key partner in addressing Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the Great Lakes region. The COCAFEM/GL and the ICGLR signed a formal partnership agreement in June 2012. Most recently, the COCAFEM/GL and the ICGLR emitted a joint news release condemning the human rights violations and violence against women in Eastern DRC. In addition, the COCAFEM/GL has been quite successful in reaching 18 local and national media sources to condemn SGBV in the Great Lakes region.