The Democratic Republic of Congo has been involved in one of the world’s most deadly wars for almost two decades. Millions have been killed, maimed, or displaced by the complicated multi-front war. The conflict weighs most heavily on the country’s women and girls who are brutalized by sexual violence, which is used as a tactic of war by armies and rebel groups.
After seeing an episode of the Oprah show that brought the plight of Congolese women to the American audience, a woman named Lisa Shannon was inspired to dedicate her life to helping women in the DRC. Shannon is the founder of the organization Run for Congo Women, which raises money to support Congolese women through the sponsorship programs developed by Women For Women International. Shannon’s first book, due out in April, is called A Thousand Sisters and chronicles her journey from watching the Oprah show to working in the streets of Bukavu, Congo.
On a recent trip to the DRC, New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof profiled Shannon, telling her amazing story in print and on video. No stranger to women’s issues himself, Kristof is a journalist committing to highlighting human rights crises around the world. In 2009, Kristof co-authored a book with his wife entitled Half the Sky, an exploration of sexual violence, maternal mortality, poverty and other issues impacting women’s lives in the developing world.
To make a difference for Congolese women, you can sponsor an individual woman via Women for Women International for just twenty-seven dollars a month. Encourage your friends and family to do the same! You can also raise money by organizing a run to support Congolese women. For other ways you can take action for women in Congo, check out a full list of ideas on the A Thousand Sisters Web site.
Written by Erica Liepmann for Causecast.org