WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT 2017-10-10T14:57:38+00:00


USAID | 2010 – 2015 | $16 million

The high prevalence of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo stems both from ongoing conflict and chronic issues of gender inequality. The Ushindi Project takes a holistic approach to supporting survivors and preventing SGBV in eastern DRC, integrating socioeconomic, legal, psychosocial, and health interventions. The project has been extended through January 2016.

Key 2015 Achievements
  • 2,720 incidents of violence were reported, with:
    – 100% receiving psychosocial support,
    – 1,550 receiving medical care, and
    – 898 receiving legal support.
  • 2,314 people completed a 12-month cycle of participation in a Village Savings and Loan Association, exceeding the project target by 76%.
  • 25,657 community leaders, 55,781 community members, and 40,675 school children were engaged in behavior change communication activities.

This year, IMA hosted United States Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Sarah Sewall, during a visit to see USAID programs in action in Eastern Congo. She said of the Ushindi project, “In Washington your program is held in high regard, and I am very pleased to able to come here and hear more and see more myself.”

Later Diana Putman, the USAID/DRC mission director, told IMA that the Under Secretary was very impressed by Ushindi and thought it was one of the best programs she visited while in the DRC.

From Brothel Owner to Women’s Empowerment Champion

As a brothel owner, Josephine Namba Balikwisha made as much money in a week as her neighbors in Bulongo, DRC, made in a year. Then Ushindi came to town, promoting equality, health, and empowerment for women. Josephine, always seeking opportunity, immediately joined the noyaux, a community-based group that spreads Ushindi messages and activities throughout the village.

It took a month for her to realize that although her business gave her personal wealth and power, it violated the rights of other women. Despite the protests of her patrons and her own children, Josephine closed her business and began escorting minors from the brothel back to their families.

Through Ushindi, Josephine has become one of the biggest champions for women’s empowerment and conflict management in her village.

“Ushindi freed me from the bad air I was living in. Even though I lost my high income, my spirit feels calm and I feel strong. Everyone calls me the USHINDI Woman,” she says proudly.