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Congolese Females Actions for Promoting Rights and Development (COFAPRI)

COFAPRI is a locally-based grassroots organisation in the rural villages of South Kivu, Eastern DR Congo (DRC).

COFAPRI was created in 2009. Since then, we have been teaching rural women about their rights, encouraging them to participate in income-generating activities, helping children to access education and, using DVDs in the local language, educating the local population on ways of improving their living conditions.

Many of our beneficiaries are women and girls who are from poor families, are survivors of conflict rape or are survivors of domestic violence, and also children born of rape.

Through bringing together these women and children, and helping them find a better life, they become empowered with the mutual support of the group.

We work in 40 villages in the region and, whenever possible, we involve local leaders and encourage the support of men and boys.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (République démocratique du Congo), formerly Zaire, is located in Central Africa, with a short Atlantic coastline (37 km). It is the third largest country in Africa by area.

Although citizens are among the poorest in the world, with the DRC having the one of the lowest nominal GDP per capita in the world, the Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered to be the richest country in the world regarding natural resources.

Cyclic wars have made the life of women precarious, and violence against women seems to be perceived by large sectors of society to be normal.

Women continue to face major problems of violence in the wake of war in the eastern DRC, including domestic violence which has become ingrained in a culture of violence. Due to the predominance of rape being used as a weapon of war, there are many children born of rape.

COFAPRI works to give a voice to the women and the girls of the Democratic Republic of Congo DRC.

COFAPRI was set up in 2009 by husband and wife team, Mugisho Theophile and Bahati Valérie, to empower women and girls, educate them about their rights, and to empower them through encouraging income-generating activities such as the rearing of livestock and sewing and knitting projects.

In addition, women and girls are empowered through being provided with reusable FEMpads to improve their hygiene and enable them to continue daily activities during menstruation.

COFAPRI also sponsors the education of children and provides them with school equipment.

The organisation works closely with local leaders and encourages men's participation in awareness-raising events in order to raise the status of women and girls and change ingrained cultural attitudes.

The support and involvement of the global community is vitally important to the COFAPRI members.

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