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Vol. 5, Issue 2 May 2012 ______________________________________________________________________________ Out of Sight, Out of Mind: A Conversation with Grassroots Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo Author: Christina E. Mitchell 4190 Brookhill Lane Bartlett, TN 38135 Email: mitchell.christina.e@gmail.com

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND: A CONVERSATION WITH GRASSROOT WOMEN IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO Abstract Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are often unfairly categorized by the inaccurate and reductive discourse of victimhood, rather than being afforded respect for their activist history and present abilities, including peace-building and development successes. Global North constructions of victimhood tend to promote this myopic view of women residing in the DRC and/or affected by the protracted armed conflict. This article challenges narrow representations of Congolese women and seeks to recognize their historical and ongoing contributions to peace initiatives and social justice. The article uses the words of grassroots, activist Congolese women to define ‘peace’ as an intersection of human needs: education, infrastructure, funding, recognition, rights, and safety. ______________________________________________________________________________

After three years of preparation, I was finally able to meet grassroots, activist women of the eastern Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a region still plagued by what has been called Africa’s World War (Hartung and Moix, 2000; Prunier, 2009). Previous to my visit, I had suspected that the recurring “victim narrative” projected on such women was overly-simplistic, despite the very real presence of military violence and rampant rape. I traveled to the DRC to learn more about the actual lives and experiences of such women – to meet them, Peace Studies Journal, Vol. 5, Issue 2, May 2012 4

PSJ Vol 5 Issue 2 2012  

Peace Studies Journal is a peer-reviewed free online academic journal dedicated to peace and conflict studies.

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