Even in the world of modern media, never underestimate the power of old-fashioned radio.

In the case of Mme. Denise, it changed her life.

Mme Denise.

Mme Denise

Mme. Denise, who lives in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, picked up a broadcast from Radio Moto that described the vulnerability and ill treatment of women — and what she could do about it.

Motivated by what she heard, Mme. Denise sent a letter to Ushindi’s Lubero Safe House. She described how she had been victimized by her husband and others in her community. Eventually, she traveled to the Lubero health zone to present her case to an Ushindi counselor. With Ushindi support, she initiated a mediation process that led to reconciliation with her husband.

Mme. Denise is one of more than 24,526 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence who have received counseling as part of the USAID-funded Ushindi project, which began in 2010 and has been extended to 2017. Ushindi, which means “we overcome” in Swahili, is a holistic project that works to prevent SGBV and support survivors in 10 health zones in the DR Congo.

SGBV has been a part of the fabric of everyday life for generations in eastern DR Congo, a region fraught with conflict. Girls are often denied education because they aren’t valued as highly as boys. It is not uncommon for a man to abuse his wife with physical violence. Sometimes, women are raped and beaten while working in the fields. These are the common and often culturally accepted behaviors that USAID, IMA World Health and the Ushindi project are working to change.

By March 2015, Ushindi:

  • Provided medical care to over 14,031 SGBV survivors
  • Provided legal support to 13,960 beneficiaries
  • Provided economic support to 25,438 people through Village Savings and Loans Associations
  • Trained more than 15,942 people who serve vulnerable persons

Widespread communication programs and mobilization have engaged communities in overcoming negative social attitudes toward women. Work continues with civil authorities to ensure all women and children are protected by changing cultural norms and applying laws guaranteeing safety, protection and equal rights.

IMA World Health is the host organization of WeWillSpeakOut.US and part of the increasing global movement toward addressing issues of gender in health, promoting women’s empowerment and gender equity in its programs.

About IWD 2016

International Women’s Day 2016 is a time to celebrate by Pledging For Parity.

Everyone is urged to pledge to take concrete steps to help achieve gender parity faster than our current global pace—whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, or develop more inclusive and flexible cultures.

At the current pace, the World Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2133.

When we work together, we can collectively help women advance equal to their numbers and realize the limitless potential they offer economies all of the world.