KEY FIGURES – Our expert shares everything you have to know about the situation of girls in the DRC (aged 15 to 19) and analyze all the relevant data from the Demographic and Health Survey 2013/2014. New data on education, reproductive health, involvement in household decision-making and the manner in which young women perceive physical and sexual violence show a noticeable empowerment of girls in the DRC.
Empowering girls through education
60 %girls aged 15 to 19 are enrolled in secondary schoolCompared to boys, girls do better in school. More girls than boys lack formal schooling (7% of girls compared to 1.4% of boys), but girls are more likely to complete their courses of study. One in four girls aged 15 to 19 has not yet completed primary school, but almost 60% are enrolled in secondary school. In general, the trend suggests an improvement over the situation in 2007.
Access to reproductive health services, such as prenatal care, delivery assisted by a trained professional and family planning, is crucial to the health and empowerment of young women.
21 %girls aged 15-19 have had a live birthTeen pregnancy is all too common in the DRC. 27% of young Congolese women aged 15 to 19 are or have already been pregnant – 42% for the quintile with the lowest revenue and 15% for the quintile with the highest revenue. 21% have had a live birth.
Although it still needs improvement, access to maternity care for girls is relatively good. Nine in ten girls aged 15 to 19 who have given birth received prenatal care from a trainer health care provider. Eight in ten delivered in a health center and/or were attended to by a qualified health professional. However, only 39% received postnatal care in a health center.
VAT2+: Tetanus immunization in two or more doses
81 %deliver in health centers assisted by a trained medical professionalThese data show that the current generation is reaping the benefits of improvements in the state of reproductive health care in the DRC. 81% deliver in health centers (HCs) assisted by a trained medical professional. Six in ten girls in this age range are protected against neonatal tetanus. Two in three girls aged 15 to 19 want to plan their pregnancies.
A downward trend in the cycle of violence against girls
Violence, together with its lasting physical and psychological effects, is a real obstacle in the development of girls and the country as a whole. The DHS covered several types of violence against women and girls:
1 in 2girls aged 15 to 19 has been a victim of violence, whether physical, sexual or emotionalOne out of every two girls aged 15 to 19 has been a victim of violence, whether physical, sexual or emotional. 13% of physical violence was perpetrated during pregnancy. Approximately one in five girls aged 15 to 19 has been a victim of sexual violence. 4% of girls aged 15 to 19 suffered a first incident of sexual violence before their fifteenth birthday.
Although the situation is critical, there is a downward trend in violence compared to data from the DHS 2007. There is also reason for hope: more than one in four girls aged 15 to 19 has sought help to bring an end to violence. It is important to act when faced with violence in order to break the cycle.
The involvement of girls in decision-making
1 in 4almost 1 in 4 girls aged 15-19 live in unionIn the DRC, 23% of girls aged 15 to 19 are currently in a union (18% married, 5% cohabiting) according to the DHS 2013/2014.
55% of these young women report that their husbands exhibit controlling behavior and become angry when they talk to other men, that they are often accused of being unfaithful, that they are not permitted to see friends, and that they are prevented from contacting family.
Regarding domestic violence, 75% of girls aged 15 to 19 believe it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife when she burns food, argues with him, goes out without telling him, neglects their children or refuses his sexual advances (the proportion is the same for all women between the ages of 15 and 49).
However, more than one in four girls is involved in decision-making in the household (regarding health care, major purchases and visits to family or parents) and is solely responsible for deciding how to use her own income. One in three girls decides how to use her income with her spouse. Involvement in decision-making is crucial if girls are to take charge of their own lives and know how to respond to instances of violence.
There is still much to be done to help empower girls to the point of ending the cycle of violence against young women in the DRC. We encourage everyone, young men and women in particular, as well as their parents, to do what they can.
It is important to help all young people, both girls and boys, complete their education in order to give them the means to make a positive contribution to society by creating wealth, safeguarding their health and that of their future families, and being able to protect themselves against all forms of abuse.
Young women should have access to specialist support when they become mothers, but also when they are victims of violence. It is vital that they know which health center to turn to in a given situation and that they be able to recognize violence and seek the appropriate type of assistance.
We must all encourage girls to participate in decision-making in their families in order to empower them, to encourage them to become actively involved in the world in which they are evolving, and to break the cycle of violence by moving away from the role of victim and taking an active role in Congolese society.
The Demographic and Health Survey
All datas come from the Demographic and Health Survey of 2013/2014 (in french only). Approximately 19,000 girls and women and 8,000 boys and men between the ages of 15 and 49 were interviewed for the DHS II. Whereas the DHS 2013/2014 report provides a clear picture of the situation of young women aged 15 to 19, the DHS 2007 report fails to isolate the disaggregated information pertaining to this age group. Consequently, we cannot compare today’s data with those of 2007.
The Survey was conducted by the Ministry of Planning and Monitoring of the Revolution of Modernity along with the Ministry of Public Health with support from partners like UNICEF, USAID, PEPFAR, the British cooperation, the World Bank Banque Mondiale, the Global Fund, UNFPA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Photo : UNICEF DRC 2014 Adrien Majourel
Translated From French by Jennifer Smithson
Flavien Mulumba est Officier de Monitoring et Evaluation pour le bureau de l'UNICEF à Kinshasa depuis 2 ans. Il croit fermement qu’investir dans les enfants en allouant plus de ressources pour favoriser leurs droits, c’est construire le monde de demain.
Flavien Mulumba has worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for 2 years at the UNICEF office in Kinshasa. He believes firmly that investing in children's futures and allocating resources to protect their rights is creating a better world for tomorrow.
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