On the Frontline of Women's Rights in the DRC: A Discussion with Women's Rights Activists

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Venue:FIU's Modesto Maidique Campus, Green Library 220

Please scroll down to read the biography of the guest speaker, Julienne Lusenge. Please note that a reception will immediately follow the lecture in Green Library's Special Collections Room located on the fourth floor.

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Julienne Lusenge is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is the Director and founder of Le Fonds des Femme Congolaises (FFC) or Congolese Women's Fund. She is one of the most respected advocates for women and girls in eastern Congo-DRC. After violent conflict usurped the region, Julienne, a radio-journalist, began documenting horrific sexual abuse and children’s rights violations at the hands of warring parties. By 2001, Julienne co-founded an NGO (SOFEPADI), working round-the-clock to support survivors of sexual violence; get the Congolese government and the UN to acknowledge that rape was being used a weapon of war; and convince government and the UN to take action to protect women and girls in eastern DRC. In 2007, she launched FFC, which works to strengthen local Congolese women’s groups working to ensure women’s rights to physical integrity, economic justice and participation in decision-making spaces.

Currently, Julienne Lusenge is focused on advocating for access to local justice for survivors of sexual violence across the Congo-DRC, and for an end to the impunity that still exists for committing rape and other atrocities against women. One of her goals is to secure reparations for women in eastern Congo-DRC who have experienced sexual violence by armed groups.

In addition to her work to ensure justice for survivors of sexual violence, Julienne Lusenge is pushing the Congolese government and the international community to (1) put women at the center of peace and security processes and (2) foster the political rights of women and girls. In so doing, she aims to end not only sexual violence, but also broader patterns of discrimination of women and girls. By increasing their social and political status, she aims to chip away at the root causes of multiple forms of human rights violations that affect Congolese women and girls.

Julienne Lusenge’s tireless efforts to improve the situation of women and girls in the most remote villages of eastern Congo-DRC have impacted national and international bodies thousands of miles away. At great risk for her life, she led the local gathering of testimony and evidence against three Congolese men appearing before the International Criminal Court (ICC), which resulted in indictments against two of the accused. Julienne’s credibility as an advocate for Congolese women and girls is further illustrated by her selection to lead a delegation of women from eastern Congo-DRC all the way to Kinshasa (Congo-DRC’s capital city), where they met with key members of the Congolese government.

For more information on Julienne Lusenge and her work, please click here.

During her presentation at FIU on March 31, 2016, Julienne Lusenge will be translated by Dr. Thomas Turner.

Dr. Thomas Turner is an independent scholar who lives in Manassas, Virginia. He taught at universities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Tunisia, and the United States. He is currently serving as volunteer Country Specialist on the Democratic Republic of Congo for Amnesty International, USA. He is the author of Congo (Global Hotspots Series, Polity Press, 2013) and The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality (Zed Books, 2007).