In Focus: Chouchou Namegabe and AFEM-SK

Chouchou Namegabe, a partner of Youth to End Sexual Violence, is a champion for justice and human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For the past fifteen years, she has been using media to drive the conversation about the use of rape against women in the Eastern Congo, and galvanizing support for gender equality. Chouchou first developed an interest in radio broadcasting and journalism as a young student, starting off at Radio Maendeleo in 1997 - a popular radio station in Eastern Congo. When violence erupted in the Congo in the late 1990s, Chouchou used the radio to speak out against the systematic use of rape against Congolese women. She earned a reputation as a fearless journalist, courageously denouncing the corruption and mismanagement that plagued all levels of the ruling authority. In 2003, Chouchou founded the South Kivu’s Women’s Media Association (AFEM) to support her activism and women's advancement through available media outlets. Working to promote and defend the rights of Congolese women, AFEM specializes in radio broadcasts to both urban and rural audiences.

AFEM has been recognized as the voice for thousands of voiceless women; they have provided Congolese women with the space to safely and anonymously share their stories, driving support for public discourse on ending violence against women. To date, AFEM has interviewed over four-hundred women in South Kivu province. Through capacity building, mass-media initiatives, and advocacy projects, AFEM has worked to address the barriers to women’s access to information, politics, and justice. In rural communities, AFEM reaches out to women through Radio Listener’s Clubs, relaying important information on human rights, leadership, democracy, good governance, women’s political participation, sexual violence. Currently, AFEM has twenty-six active Listener’s Clubs across South Kivu province.

“I didn’t know that I could speak to a gathering of people, especially if there were men present. I was educated not to speak in front of men, but now I know my rights I no longer hesitate to claim them. After receiving training from AFEM, I became a true leader. It is my goal to educate and sensitize other women in Kalehe…” - Xaverine M’Katwanyi

AFEM also provides trainings and professional internships to Congolese women focusing on journalism and new technology. To date, sixty women have been trained.

“I was working in the mines when I heard about the work of AFEM. I was interested, so I got in touch with them. After receiving training, I was able to leave the painful job in the mines where I faced all kinds of sexual violence. Now I’m a big journalist…thats why I call out to the other women who are in the mines. I am calling on them to change jobs and join AFEM…” - Wabiwa Depapy 

Chouchou and AFEM continue to shine a spotlight on the issues women face in the Eastern Congo everyday. In a society where silence was considered the common response to rape, AFEM has helped thousands of women heal their wounds by airing powerful oral testimonies. For helping to end the silence in Eastern Congo, we commend the fantastic work of Chouchou Namegabe. She reminds us how young people can make a difference, through the power of media. 

#EndTheSilence #SpeakOutAgainstRape

To find out more about how you can support Chouchou Namegabe and AFEM-SK, go to

 http://englishafemsk.blogspot.com

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