Nearly 20 years on from a conflict that killed 5 million people and upended tenfold more lives, the Democratic Republic of Congo is once again sliding into chaos. Within a context of endless war and escalating militarization, women peace builders are working to create dialogue between rebel groups and communities.
Across the region, peace activists track human rights violations, warn of impending violence, and advocate for an end to impunity. These women take immense risks to denounce the violence and mediate conflicts in their communities, conflicts that disproportionately target women.
In a deeply patriarchal society, where women speaking up and taking up leadership roles is perceived as a form of rebellion, women activists face violent backlash. Still, they meet with rebel leaders to bring them to the negotiating table, bargain for an end to the worst forms of violence, and cross borders and frontlines to negotiate peace agreements.
The story of the resilience of these women and their contributions to peace has never been told until now.
As rebels, jihadist groups, Congolese, and foreign armies create chaos, these activists are mobilizing to find local solutions and stop the nation from returning to the days of total war. This project pairs rare visuals of the frontlines of conflict in Congo with portraits and stories of the incredible efforts of these women to protect their communities, the extremely difficult settings in which they work, and the many cultural obstacles which they face.