Kinshasa: 800 women receive resilience kits to cope with Covid-19

Date: Thursday, April 9, 2020

Delivery of resilience kits for women from Kinshasa in economic difficulty because of the Covid-19 crisis. From left to right: Mrs. Irène Esambo, Minister responsible for people with disabilities; Mrs. Béatrice Lomeya, Minister of State, Minister for Gender, Family and Children and Mrs. Awa Ndiaye Seck, Representative of UN Women in the DRC. Photo: UN Women/Carlos Ngeleka
Delivery of resilience kits for women from Kinshasa in economic difficulty because of the Covid-19 crisis. From left to right: Mrs. Irène Esambo, Minister responsible for people with disabilities; Mrs. Béatrice Lomeya, Minister of State, Minister for Gender, Family and Children and Mrs. Awa Ndiaye Seck, Representative of UN Women in the DRC. Photo: UN Women/Carlos Ngeleka

In order to fight the spread of Coronavirus, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo enforced several measures from 19 March 2020, such as the closure of public places, including schools and markets, and called on the population to reduce movements. Kinshasa, the capital of DRC and the center of economic activities, is also the epicenter of the epidemic and has been isolated from other provinces.

The majority of Congolese women and their families live in the informal economy, without social security coverage. Since the beginning of the health crisis, many women had their incomes reduced sharply or have found themselves unemployed, while the price of food and necessities continues to rise.

UN Women, with the financial support of the Swedish Embassy, developed and distributed hygiene and resilience kits to enable 800 women and their families to compensate for the lack of income, use their savings to purchase other items, such as medicines, and access quality information about the measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Resilience kits for women from Kinshasa in economic difficulty due to the Covid-19 crisis distributed by UN Women, the Minister for Gender, Family and Children, the Minister of Health, the Minister Delegate for People with Disabilities and the Swedish Embassy in the DRC through the Solidarity Consortium of women's organizations. Photo: UN Women/Carlos Ngeleka
Resilience kits for women from Kinshasa in economic difficulty due to the Covid-19 crisis distributed by UN Women, the Minister for Gender, Family and Children, the Minister of Health, the Minister Delegate for People with Disabilities and the Swedish Embassy in the DRC through the Solidarity Consortium of women's organizations. Photo: UN Women/Carlos Ngeleka

The kits are distributed by a Consortium of women’s lead organizations to women and girls whose incomes have dropped since the beginning of the crisis, such as street vendors and women who run small businesses in markets. Other groups of women and girls have also received kits, such as female students whose family lives outside Kinshasa, homeless women and girls, elderly or disabled women.

Each bucket is illustrated with pictures and messages in Lingala, Kinshasa’s local language, explaining the right gestures and listing national Coronavirus emergency numbers. Each kit contains 10 kilos of food and essential hygiene products for women, such as sanitary pads, water purification tablets, and bleach. They also include soap, alcohol-based gel and tissues, which enable women to follow sanitary instructions and protect themselves when caring for sick family members.

Ebola epidemics’ experience shows that women are more at risk because of their traditional caregiver roles and have less access to quality information. Limited mobility and stress induced by fear and uncertainty also increase the risk of domestic and sexual violence. DRC National Police figures for the city of Kinshasa already show a 5% increase in violence in March 2020. These figures only take into account violence reported to the police.

DYNAFEC (National Dynamics of Women Candidates), partner of UN Women, distributes the kits in the commune of Selembao, on the outskirts of Kinshasa. Photo: DYNAFEC
DYNAFEC (National Dynamics of Women Candidates), partner of UN Women, distributes the kits in the commune of Selembao, on the outskirts of Kinshasa. Photo: DYNAFEC

Kits’ composition, and identification of beneficiaries, were determined through consultations with UN Women's partners, gathered in the Solidarity Consortium. These include the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), the National Dynamics of Women Candidates (DYNAFEC), the National Network of Rural Women's Associations (RENAFER), the National Coordination of Students and other organizations working with people at risk.

The kits prompt preparation and distribution was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Swedish Embassy. The Minister of Gender, the Minister of Health, the Minister of people living with handicap, WHO and the Covid-19 national task force, also took part in the handover ceremony,