5 Powerful African Women Leading the Fight Against Sexual Violence in Conflict

5 Powerful African Women Leading the Fight Against Sexual Violence in Conflict

Sexual violence in conflict zones is a harsh reality faced by many women across Africa. Despite the devastating impacts, several brave women are leading the charge against this atrocity, advocating for survivors, and striving to bring about change. This article spotlights five influential African women making significant changes in the fight against sexual violence in conflict.


Justine Masika Bihamba

Justine Masika Bihamba is a prominent human rights activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and founder of Synergy of Women for Victims of Sexual Violence (Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes des Violences Sexuelles or SFVS), an organization dedicated to supporting victims of sexual violence in the conflict-ridden eastern regions of the DRC.

SFVS provides medical, psychological, and legal support to survivors. Under Justine’s leadership, the organization has assisted thousands of women and girls who have suffered from sexual violence. Justine’s relentless advocacy has earned her international recognition, but it has also made her a target. Despite threats and attacks, she continues her vital work, proving that courage and determination can make a difference.


Mama Koite Doumbia

Mama Koite Doumbia, a Malian Politician, renowned for her efforts to combat sexual violence and promote women’s rights across Africa. She was elected to the Mali Women’s Communication Network and then elected President of the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), based in Nairobi, Kenya from 2003 to 2010. From 2005 to 2014, she was president of the Sectoral Cluster for Gender and Related Issues and Vice President of the Economic, Social, and Cultural Council of the African Union. She was then Vice President of the international association Gender In Action and a member of the Network on Peace and Security for Women in the ECOWAS region/Mali.

In addition, she served as the chair of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and represented the African group of States Parties on the TFV Board. Over the years, she has stood as a vocal advocate for the protection and empowerment of women in conflict zones. She has also worked to bring attention to the plight of women affected by conflict, soliciting stronger legal frameworks and better enforcement of existing laws. Her advocacy has been instrumental in the adoption of several key resolutions aimed at protecting women from sexual violence.


Julienne Lusenge

Julienne Lusenge, a human rights activist recognized for advocating for survivors of wartime sexual violence. She is also the co-founder and president of Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development (SOFEPADI), an organization that supports survivors of sexual violence and works to prevent such crimes. She also established the Fund for Congolese Women (FFC), which provides financial and logistical support to grassroots women’s organizations in the DRC.

She is on the advisory committee of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict Zones and is the Vice President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Julienne’s work has been critical in highlighting the link between sexual violence and conflict. She has spoken at numerous international forums, urging world leaders to take concrete actions against sexual violence in conflict zones. Her advocacy has brought global attention to the issue and led to tangible support for victims.

Clotilde Bangwene Aziza

Clotilde Aziza Bangwene is the founder of ‘Association des Femmes des Médias’ du Sud-Kivu (AFEM), an organization that promotes the development of women’s rights through the media. She is also the first woman Editor-in-Chief of the largest and oldest associative radio station in the city of Bukavu in South Kivu, radio Maendeleo. Since she joined community radio Maendeleo in 1994 as a journalist before she became editor-in-chief, she hosted programs on the promotion of women’s rights and human rights in general.

In her capacity as a defender of women’s rights, regardless of threats and intimidation, she created the Association of Media Women of South Kivu. An association that has within it a renowned thematic radio station ‘Mama Radio’, where she openly advocated for women’s rights and called out rapists for justice.

In addition, she coordinated the Great Lakes Waves project of the Panos Paris Institute with the support of the European Union, the Dutch NGO Cordaid, and Swedish cooperation. A project that consists of networking with media actors and supporting the peace and reconciliation process between Burundi, Rwanda, and DR Congo.

She has worked in the ‘Resilience and Stabilization’ pillar of the UNDP. She is also in the design of communication products for the visibility of the pillars and functions of the Stabilization Support Unit of the ISSSS in the East of the DRC but also the capacity building of the partners of the Coherence Fund in communications for advocacy.

Another creation of Maman Aziza is the ‘Mam’Afrika Foundation’, a development and charitable organization that is currently working on caring for malnourished children in the Kanyaruchinya displaced person camp and supporting street children in North Kivu.


Emmanuella Zandi

Emmanuella Zandi is the deputy general manager o the National Fund for Reparations for Victims of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and Crimes Against the Peace and Security of Humanity (Fonarev RDC). A public establishment with fundamental principles to relating the protection and reparation of victims of sexual violence linked to conflicts and victims of crimes against the peace and security of humanity.

She is also an activist from South Sudan and founder of ‘Ma Voisine’ an NGO which promotes girls’ empowerment by girls. She is a rising voice in the fight against sexual violence in Conflict.

As a victim and survivor of sexual violence in conflict as well as gender-based violence, she started by organizing gatherings called “Club Anonyme” in different municipalities or schools, where she talked about her experience, to advocate for girls’ rights and helped several other victims voice out. Her continuous commitment to promoting justice and dignity, raising awareness, and support to victims tends to build a more equitable world.


The fight against sexual violence in conflict zones is far from over, but the tireless efforts of these five women provide hope and inspiration. Justine Masika Bihamba, Mama Koite Doumbia, Julienne Lusenge, Clotilde Bangwene Azize, and Emmanuella Zandi are leading the charge, demonstrating the power of resilience and the importance of advocacy. Their work is crucial in the ongoing battle to protect and empower women in conflict zones across Africa. Through their dedication and bravery, they are paving the way for a future where sexual violence in conflict is not just condemned, but eradicated.


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