AN EXHIBITION FEATURING PHOTOGRAPHS BY LYNSEY ADDARIO, MARCUS BLEASDALE, RON HAVIV, AND JAMES NACHTWEY
ECONOMIC CONDITIONS and WOMEN
The national constitution enshrines the right of Congolese women and men to benefit from the wealth of the country. It states that, “All Congolese have the right to enjoy the nation’s wealth. The State has a duty to redistribute it equitably and to guarantee the right to development”
However, despite the natural wealth of the DRC – it has stores of copper, gold, diamonds, tin ore, timber, coltan, and oil – the country ranks as one of the poorest in the world because of decades of mismanagement, corruption, and widespread impunity. Successive governments have failed to transfer benefits from the mining and forest-based industries to the population and without strong democratic and judicial systems there has been no recourse for civilians. Women are particularly vulnerable to the country’s poor governance due to widespread discrimination against them in cultural norms and legislation. They have limited access to property, education, and financial services and yet they typically carry the burden of providing for their families, especially in rural areas.
In the highly militarized and violent mining areas of eastern DRC, government forces and militia groups, in shifting alliances, have taken control of areas rich in gold, diamonds, and other minerals. The associated violence and widespread rape in this region have created additional financial crises for women who are often shunned by society and expelled from their homes after sexual attacks, thereby losing economic support for themselves and their children.
Lizzie Parsons, Global Witness
Parsons is a campaigner with Global Witness, the first organization aimed at breaking the link between the exploitation of natural resources and conflict and corruption.