Empowering women, young boys and girls against radicalization and violent extremism in eastern DRC
Republic Democratic of Congo - DRC
The challenge

In 2018, Central African Province of the Islamic State (ISCAP) was recognized as an official province of the Islamic State and in April 2019, ISCAP attacks in the DRC were officially claimed by the Islamic State's central office. The Islamic State officially announced its intention to attack the country and acknowledged in 2019 that its "soldiers of the caliphate" were present in DRC. Statistics show that the context in eastern DRC could be a breeding ground for youth recruitment and the rise of violent extremism that can lead to terrorism. Indeed, statistics reveal that the DRC has one of the highest child recruitment rates in the world. 

Since 2019, as in other contexts of violent extremism, the rate of youth recruitment has increased due to a combination of factors, including weakened family and community structures, increased family ties to armed groups, death of a parent, displacement, and low schooling. At the same time, there was a rise in radicalization among the population. In March 2022, violent demonstrations against MONUSCO broke out in several towns in eastern DRC. This "anti-UN" violence by radicalized youth occurred because of anti-UN personnel rhetoric, spread primarily through social media. Civilians, UN peacekeepers and police were killed, and UN property was systematically destroyed and looted. In addition, in April 7, 2022, an explosion occurred in a bar in Goma where six people were killed and at least 16 injured which was caused by an explosive vest worn by a woman, who died in the attack.

In response to extremist groups activism in the Congo, this project was developed upon recommendation of the Provincial Government of North Kivu.

The project

The project seeks to build the capacity of women, boys and girls to prevent radicalization within family and social structures. Counter-narrative discourses to violent extremism will reduce the propensity of youth to join extremist groups. Finally, the strengthening of social protection structures and the creation of socio-economic opportunities will strengthen the empowerment, human rights, and commitment of women and young boys and girls.


The project will:

  • Promote counter-narratives that can lead to terrorism by developing interactive radio programs in local languages; identifying linkages between youth lens, gender, violent extremism and terrorism; training train women, young men and girl’s leaders on the promotion of tolerance and prevention of radicalization.
  • Reduce the socio-economic vulnerability of youth and women that leads them to join extremist group by developing community social protection mechanisms, a revolving fund to finance small income-generating activities and by providing grant subsidies and income-generating activities to young people (girls and boys) and women in the various communities.
  • Strengthen the functions of family and social educational structures and community governance mechanisms by building two Transition and Orientation Centers (CTO) for youth associated with extremist groups to facilitate socio-professional reintegration; strengthening coordination between Local Peace and Development Committees and Local Security Committees; and strengthening civil-military cooperation at the community level involving youth and women associations.
  • Strengthen community resilience by reviewing local development plans considering radicalization, violent extremism and gender issues; organizing community sessions to identify the local/regional/provincial recruitment network of extremist groups; setting up early warning systems for radicalization and violent extremism and networks of youth leaders and youth organizations 
Expected impact

The project will strengthen governance and socialization mechanisms which will help build community resilience to violent extremism and strengthen early warning systems to prevent terrorist attacks. The provision of care and socio-economic reintegration will help ensure the conditions for the return of young people who have joined extremist groups. 

This will in turn provide communities with a strategic framework for prevention and response led by the authorities and facilitate the financing of interventions by local revenues and the government. Rotating funds and income-generating activities will promote gender equality and maximize the role of women, boys, and girls in preventing radicalization and violent extremism, while ensuring socio-economic well-being.

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