In North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, JRS offers displaced women protection through vocational training and income-generating activities to help them improve their livelihoods and reach self-sufficiency. Lack of opportunities and limited resources contribute to the uncertain situation of displaced women who are often the sole breadwinner of the family. Most of them either lost their husbands in the armed conflict or were abandoned after having been sexually abused by either armed groups or their intimate partner. They are left alone to provide for their children.
A group of 200 displaced women took part in the SGBV prevention project through cash assistance and land rental for agricultural activities. All women who receive services from this JRS project, financed by UN-Women, have been or are at risk of being raped by armed groups who are located in Virunga park where women from nearby displacement settings collect wood for living. The project provided them alternative livelihoods through training in agriculture. During the freshly planted vegetables grow, JRS is providing them with cash assistance. The vegetables will be easily sold in Goma markets due to high demand.
Improving livelihoods opportunities is not only about economic self-sufficiency; it is also about restoring dignity, self-confidence, and hope. SGBV survivors are often stigmatised and excluded from their families and communities. They often are rejected by their husbands, hence deprived of any kind of social and family support. While the technical trainings help them acquire skills to rebuild a sustainable life, JRS also accompanies them with psychosocial support to help them heal and rediscover hope. A huge component of psychosocial support is helping women create social support networks and realise that they are not alone, that there are other women who had the same experience and that there is a way to live a better life.
Income-generating activities and self-employment opportunities ease the stress of relying on humanitarian aid and foster integration, social cohesion, and resilience. Women who participated in the JRS project have regained their inner strength and are moving on despite the suffering they had to go through. They have acquired tools to confront yet another crisis and created social networks, which help them to confront stigmatization and loneliness.
With access to opportunities, displaced women attain protection, opportunity, and participation.