The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. Eastern DRC is a region with massive levels of sexual and gender-based violence. Norwegian and Congolese researchers will collaborate on research to improve the situation for women in Eastern DRC. Today, funds for this project have been granted by the Research Council of Norway (NORGLOBAL).

Dr. Denis Mukwege, who represents the Congolese partner in this project, is in Oslo this week and attended the NORAD conference on aid for health and education yesterday. Mukwege is the founder and Medical Director of the General Referral Hospital Panzi in Bukavu DRC, where has been working with survivors of sexual violence and women with severe gynecological problems for over 15 years. Apart from having treated thousands of women and being considered one of the globally leading experts on repairing the physical damage from rape and sexual violence, Dr Mukwege is one of the world’s most visible advocates for women’s rights and quality health care for all. Today he visits PRIO to discuss future research collaboration.

Meeting with Denis Mukwege at PRIO.

The new project is based on a partnership between the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the International Centre for Advanced Research and Training (ICART) in DRC. This centre is a collaborative initiative between researchers from the Panzi Hospital, Panzi Foundation DRC, and the Université Evangelique en Afrique in Bukavu, DRC.

The project has three parts:

  1. building local research capacity through workshops and intensive training of ICART researchers in topics such as research methodology and academic publishing, particularly for female researchers;
  2. investigating how survivors of sexual and gender-based violence can be empowered and reintegrated into society through socioeconomic support programs; and
  3. understanding gender relations in the area more broadly by considering both gender roles and intimate partner violence. Here we will explore general perceptions and attitudes towards gender roles and the potential for strengthening gender equality.

We will combine surveys and in-depth interviews. Research will be carried out and disseminated through close collaboration between researchers based in Norway and the DRC. Our aim is that findings from the project can be used by policy-makers and NGOs to set up more efficient programs to empower women and prevent sexual violence in the future. The project will generate knowledge within a field of critical importance globally and for Norway's development aid policy, and lessons from the project will also be relevant beyond the Congolese context.

Dr. Denis Mukwege with the project team. From left: Siri Aas Rustad, Gudrun Østby, Ragnhild Nordås and Lynn P. Nygaard.

Media contacts in Norway:

Gudrun Østby, tel +47 98671543

Ragnhild Nordås, tel +47 93065824

Media contacts in DR Congo:

Susanne Alldén (Programme manager Panzi Hospital): tel +243 819 092 158

Dr. Denis Mukwege with PRIO Director Kristian Berg Harpviken.