From where I stand: "now we know that if a man mistreats us, he is the one that is pitiful, not us"
Destine Mulubwa is a vegetable grower at Kapulwa Village in Haut-Katanga. Mother to 13 children, two of whom died at early age, she dreams of owning a big home to have them all stay. Nevertheless, a lack of economic opportunities for women and the prominence of gender-based violence in the region made it difficult to be independent. When the NGO of the village, Sud-Ouest Developpment, received funding from UN Women in 2016 through the project “Strengthening the economic power of women in rural and peri-urban areas in the province of Haut-Katanga", Destine started seeing positive changes in her community.
My job is to cultivate in the garden during the dry season and to cultivate maize, cassava and soy during the rainy season. I also have goats, chickens and other farm animals on my land. When I arrived, those who had cultivated this land before me had damaged it, my work was almost impossible.
I joined the NGO Sud-Ouest Développement since its inception in 1998. They helped me get chemicals to heal the land. After receiving funding from UN Women in 2016, we started receiving training on agriculture and the market economy, which helped me a lot. I begun investing in a bean business plan that allowed me to save, sell and support myself. A few of my children got married and were able to study. For the past two years I have regressed in my business plan, but I am gradually picking it up.
Before, we heard a lot about cases of gender-based violence and early marriages, but they have now decreased a lot. We started attending workshops on women's rights and now we know that if a man touches and harasses us, he is the one that is pitiful, not us. The village has them arrested and punished. Boys and men are scared and realize it's not right to mistreat women. We no longer hear cases of abuse.
The village is also very proud of its masonry project for young women and men, it's great that our youth have options. I hope that my 11 children will always be employed and that I will save enough to build a big house on my land to welcome them when they visit me.”
UN Women DRC visited the village of Kapulwa in November 2022, to evaluate the results from the project conducted in 2016 and 2017. The village has now a dispensary (infirmary), a small shop, pre-school and church. Many women own their own plot of land and sell their produce to markets nearby. Once they have finished school, girls and boys that do not wish to go to university or work on the land, and would rather train in masonry, can obtain their official training and certificates from two military officials that volunteer to teach them. Villagers attend workshops on eliminating VAW, positive masculinity, eradicating child marriage and empowerment.
These women’s stories of entrepreneurship show the importance of Sustainable Development Goal N°5, which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.