Canadian church representatives are about to embark on the Women of Courage Tour, a KAIROS Canada-led delegation to the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Ongoing armed conflict in the vast and mineral-rich DRC has given rise to one of the world’s worst human rights and humanitarian crises, with shocking levels of sexual violence against girls and women.
Delegates from the United, Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches of Canada will be witnesses to this critical situation during the June 16 to 19 tour sponsored by the Toronto-based ecumenical organization for social change and justice.
“Eastern DRC is the most under-reported humanitarian and human-rights crisis in the world today,” says Jim Davis, co-ordinator of KAIROS’s Africa partnerships program. “Gender-based sexual violence is occurring with near absolute impunity. The Canadian church universal needs to witness this and speak for the relatively voiceless, and to highlight both the plight of these women and the hope and resilience as people of faith.”
The delegation also seeks to deepen understanding of the effects of unprincipled resource extraction on people and the environment in the eastern DRC. The area abounds in diamonds, gold, cobalt, copper, zinc and coltan.
The tour aims to raise awareness in Canadian church constituencies, the general public and the government about the human rights and environmental situation, as well as make concrete recommendations to Canadians and government on addressing these pressing issues.
The delegation is a key component of the Women of Courage program, which is rooted in KAIROS’s commitment to gender justice.
KAIROS’s host in the DRC is its long-time African partner, Héritiers de la Justice, a human rights NGO in the eastern DRC that operates, among other services, a KAIROS-supported legal clinic fighting violence against girls and women.
Delegates will meet with community members, human rights defenders, society organizations, churches, the UN and the Canadian Embassy, as well as government representatives, including the ministers of justice and gender.