Fighting Sexual Violence in DR Congo

"The opportunity to work with, train and advise military, police, governmental partners, civil society and civilians, all involved in the fight against sexual violence in Congo, is amazing." says Dominique Vidale-Plaza, who started her assignment as Woman Protection Advisor in the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) in DR Congo this autumn.

Dominique Vidale-Plaza near her office in the MONUSCO base, Goma (Photo: NORDEM 2015)

Coordinating a multitude of actors

With a background from NGO work, Dominique Vidale-Plaza has extensive experience in direct-programming for survivors of sexual violence and activities advancing sexual and reproductive health in the Kivus. Her new position in MONUSCO is much more of an over-arching role. She works closely with and advises UN agencies, governmental partners and coordination bodies. "There's more focus on empowering a range of practitioners and stakeholders, to be able to better prevent and respond to sexual violence and protect women and girls in North Kivu. Taking a step back from direct implementation gives me a broader understanding and approach to them," she says.

The added value of a peacekeepig operation

Dominique finds that MONUSCO is in a unique position to effect a sound, comprehensive, security and justice focused response to sexual violence, which can be valuable to the prevention of sexual violence as well. "There is enormous potential to reach and engage with some key actors involved in the perpetration of sexual violence, notably the State armed forces, and a range of armed groups. In combatting conflict related sexual violence there is an opportunity to strengthen and improve the justice system and security sector, as well," says Dominique. 

Bringing the grass roots perspective

She admits that she misses working more closely with communities and individuals, but thinks that her experience can bring something different and interesting to MONUSCO. "I hope to be able to bring some elements of the grassroots perspective, to the strategic discussions and forums, and, as a result, assist the mission in taking actions against sexual violence that are more comprehensive and have more of an impact on the lives of the Congolese people, specifically its women."

NORDEM support to MONUSCO

Dominique is one of five NORDEM secondees currently in MONUSCO. Her NORDEM colleagues work with judicial protection in the Joint Human Rights Office and with stabilisation programming in the Stabilisation Support Unit. NORDEM has provided more than 25 secondees to MONUSCO since 2009.

One of NORDEM's other secondees, Hanan Talbi, and her colleagues in MONUSCO's Joint Human Rights Office mark the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (Photo: NORDEM 2015)

Published Dec. 21, 2015 10:25 AM - Last modified Feb. 8, 2016 4:08 PM