2015 has been a big year for women of the Congo thus far. Not only have these women seen progress within the work field, but they have also experienced development in their representation at both national and subnational levels.
Beginning with women working in the mines of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, women’s social and familial standings are increasingly becoming topics of discussion. In past years, media coverage has instigated a depiction of women as victims of rape by armed groups in the mining areas of eastern DRC. Recently, women have revealed rape as commonplace, rather than predominantly at the hands of armed forces. Further research has shown that 26% of women were not aware of the mining code in the DRC protecting their right to work. Only 17% of women believed they had the right to work in the mines. In reaction to these institutional problems, the World Bank has begun its establishment of a “Women in Mining” network, aiming to spread awareness of women’s situation in the mines and improving their working conditions. This network is a significant step for women of the DRC, as such organizations are known to get the attention of government and policy makers on public policy issues at a global level.
Better yet, as of this year, the empowerment of women living in the Congo is reaching new levels. The 2015 Miss Earth Pageant will represent the Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo for the first time in history. The time is now to bring about change for the women of the Congo and what better way than with a female role model on a global scale?
Women of the DRC are subject to sexual and non-sexual threats and viewed as inferior. It is this lack of respect that ultimately results in various daily challenges among women, such as receiving an education. The Miss Earth Pageant is thus a great opportunity to hear the women of the Congo’s voices at an international level. It is a place where they can share their daily struggles, poor treatment, and harsh working conditions such as those within the mines. It is the first time a Congolese woman will take part in this event, and it can be the start of an entire movement. The pageant will be televised in over 189 countries, and titleholders can focus on promoting and protecting global issues. This will finally provide the Congo with a role model that will represent them with pride and rid them of their reputations of vulnerability. The Miss Earth Pageant of 2015 is thus a momentous stepping stone toward a real future for these women and is an opportunity to be represented by beauty and strength.