The status and political participation of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (1960-2010): a critical historical reflection.
Lukamba, Tshombe M
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One of the central demands of the feminist movement (which started in the 1880s globally [but first arose in France in 1870]) has been and continues to be women’s exercise of their full and active citizenship, which they consider was denied them as a result of not being recognised as equals at the moment of the definition and construction of citizenship in the eighteenth century. Since then, the women’s movement and feminist movement have denounced this exclusion, calling for equal citizenship for women. At first, between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, the feminist movement demanded the right to vote along with other civic, civil, and political rights, considered as a first wave of feminism.1 The second wave of feminism during the 1960s and 1970s continued to demand the expansion of women’s citizenship in the case of the African continent as a whole, and called for a redefinition of the private sphere in which women were isolated. In this sphere they were excluded from certain human rights and were thus unable to fully exercise rights expressing an equal citizenship.2 In for example the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as the focus for this discussion, the participation of Congolese women in the decision making of the country by 2011 was supported by the recently promulgated constitution of the DRC in 2006. The constitution promotes equal opportunity for men and women, but the current government has to date not yet achieved what was promised then. This paper is a critical historical reflection of women’s status and political participation in the DRC. It also argues that the DRC government should encourage women to become actively involved in political parties so that they are eventually able to achieve the highest office in the country in order to serve justice to human rights. Furthermore, the government should take the initiative to introduce a quota system for women in the different state structures. The paper also calls upon political parties of the DRC to encourage the participation of women in party politics.