By Claudine Tsongo
‘Without justice, we will never move forward in Congo. Without accountability and the rule of law, the Congolese people – and above all, Congolese women – will never be able to realize their full potential.’
Claudine is a lawyer and she has seen first-hand how Congolese women, particularly those from rural areas, are disadvantaged and discriminated against by the justice system. Limited access to legal services is an obstacle to progress and development in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In 2002, with a small group of women lawyers in Goma, she set up the Women Lawyers Movement (la Dynamique des Femmes Juristes, or ‘DFJ’). They provide legal assistance to vulnerable women in communities across North Kivu, free of charge, with teams of paralegals and lawyers working out of rural legal clinics. With ECI’s investment and capacity-building support, they work to protect women’s rights through the Congolese legal system.
Organizations like these, will help put pressure on governments in third world countries to treat all their people fairly, regardless of ethnicity, status, sex or education.