There are large knowledge gaps. Gendered evidence is very limited and problematic. The evidence available points to the following findings:
- On conflict drivers: – Gender is mostly discussed in relation to rape as a weapon of war (masculinity and instrumental use of gendered terror by armed groups). – Sexual and gender-based violence has led to traditional authority and power relations being replaced with a violent, militarised social order. – Many women have actively participated in the war, in different roles. – Women, especially widows, are strongly disadvantaged in land ownership (land is a known driver of conflict).
- On stabilisation: – Women have generally been under-represented and marginalised from national and local politics. – Building capacity and accountability in the security sector could help tackle sexual violence. The Congolese army is a primary perpetrator of abuses and operates with impunity. – State services such as healthcare are in a very poor state for all, including women. Economies of violence affect women. Any land reform has to ensure women are not excluded. – Domestic violence and substance abuse have characterised male ex-combatants’ return, while non-combatant women from armed groups were overlooked. In socio-economic recovery, women’s roles as producers and providers have increased, especially for internally displaced and refugee widows. Women have assumed traditionally male roles and risk a backlash. The main problem remains the very poor socio-economic situation. Suffering and exploitation with regard to rural livelihoods and health have strongly affected women and children. – Gender-based sexual violence goes beyond wartime abuse against women. There is socially normalised civilian and military violence. Responses must take into account collective trauma. Holding abusers accountable will require a gender-sensitive judicial reform.