Around the world, public places are less safe and welcoming for women than for men. This often is because of street harassment but it’s also because of rape or the fear of rape. In no region on earth is the reality of rape more prevalent than in the Congo, the worst place on earth to be a woman.
For the last several months I’ve become more educated about and involved in addressing the atrocities in the Congo, from participating in programs by Women for Women International and Enough,to meeting/brainstorming action with East Congolese immigrants who have lived and seen first-hand the atrocities in their communities, to reading Lisa Shannon’s book A Thousand Sisters: My journey into the worst place on earth to be a woman.
For six hours yesterday after work, I joined Lisa, who is also the founder of Run for Congo Women, and several other courageous women and men outside the State Department in Washington, DC, as part of public outcry to ask the State Department to take more action in Congo, including to create a Congo Plan.
Lisa and several others are camping out all week, 24/7 (in very cold weather: at night the windchill has been single digits) and also are orchestrating a virtual protest. They are asking individuals to take photos of themselves holding signs with messages to the State Department and posting those photos on Facebook.
Lisa is meeting with members of the State Department today and she hopes to meet with Secretary Clinton next week. Regardless of whether or not she can do this in person or will have to drop it off for Sect. Clinton, Lisa will print all of the photos from the virtual protest and put them in a booklet for Sect. Clinton so she knows how many people care about this issue.
It literally only takes a minute to join the Virtual Campaign and another couple of minutes to add your photo message if you have easy access to a digital camera and computer or to a camera/scanner/computer. (And if you want to do more or want to do something else, check out the organizations I linked to above to find out how you can become involved).
Here is the full information about the Virtual Campaign:
With 5.4 million Congolese dead as of January 2008, it is high time to treat Congo as the emergency it is!
-The State Dept has told us repeatedly they need a public outcry in order to act. This is it!
-Since August, we have hammered the State Department and prompted 21 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to write a “Dear Colleague” letter to Secretary Clinton urging well-vetted, stronger U.S. policies and international leadership to help stabilize Congo.
-A few dedicated women will be spending a long, cold, sleepless week outside of the State Dept. in D.C., from 6 AM Dec. 6th thru 11:59 PM Dec. 10th, demanding a comprehensive Congo Plan. And we are calling on people across the country to join us in a virtual campaign supporting those efforts in the cold.
-For background on our well vetted policy asks, see www.athousandsisters.com/blog: a) Dear Colleague Letter to Secretary Clinton; b) Eastern Congo Initiative White Paper; c) Nicholas Kristof’s 4-point plan for Congo d) anything on the Enough Project or Raise Hope for Congo websites.
-Our efforts will count ONLY IF YOU, YOUR FAMILY & FRIENDS join us virtually on the internet! Please help us create an internet firestorm of support for Congo! The time is now! Take a photo of yourself and your message to the State Dept and upload it here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Outcry-for-Congo/166647026706786.