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Pioneer of change: a rural woman promotes peace and development in her village

Empowering rural women like Edwina Mukalay to make change in their communities.

Women carry produce to the market in Kabalo. (© FAO / Olivier Asselin)

According to a long-held belief in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, women from the Twa community were not allowed to engage in public speaking. So until recently, it would have been impossible to imagine a Twa woman visiting the villages of other communities such as those of the Bantu, to talk about intercommunal peace. But in the village of Monde, in the area of Kabalo, women like Edwina Mukalay are proving that they can actively participate in strengthening social cohesion and promoting peace.

Edwina, a married mother of four, is one of her area’s Village Peace Committee councilors. Together with other members of the Peace Committee, she has travelled to neighboring villages in the region, to raise awareness about peace and community development among the Twa and Bantu people. Thanks to these peacebuilding sessions, the two communities have moved from conflict to dialogue, and Twa and Bantu farmers now work together on their fields.

“Months of conflict between our two communities have really weakened our villages,” explained Edwina. “Now I am happy to belong to a mixed Peace Committee where Twa and Bantu work together for common goals.”

The Peace Committee is one of many activities implemented through the Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme, a joint initiative of FAO and WFP, launched in 2017 to boost agricultural production, strengthen livelihoods, promote access to basic markets and consolidate peace. The programme supports a total of 18 000 households (108 000 people) through a range of activities, including the provision of agricultural inputs and kits (with quality seeds and tools), agricultural and literacy training, and the setting up of Dimitra Clubs to strengthen technical capacities and enhance social cohesion. 

Like other women in the community, Edwina also attended literacy training sessions. Soon, she will be able to fulfill a long-held wish to communicate with her brothers, who live in distant villages.

“Thanks to the literacy activities, I recognize the importance of getting my children to school,” she says. “I am determined to complete my learning to have the necessary skills to take better care of my husband and my children and to support my community’s progress.”

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