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Breaking Congo’s Glass Ceiling

Gender Politics in the DRC

Congolese women line up to cast their ballots at a polling station in Chombo village, near Bukavu town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, July 30, 2006. Euan Denholm / Reuters

On a sweltering Sunday afternoon in Goma, one of the largest and most troubled cities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chantal Faida emerged beaming from the tin-roofed office of the National Elections Commission. It was May 2015, and she had just registered as a candidate in Congo’s upcoming provincial elections (originally scheduled for October 2015 but later postponed) to contest the seat of Goma, the capital of North Kivu.

“Today we write the first chapter of a new beginning in our province’s history,” Faida said, standing in front of a pool of reporters. “It would be my great honor to represent you, to be your voice for hope.” Cameras flashed and reporters jostled for a sound bite, pushing their microphones impossibly close to her mouth as she spoke. Faida is a polished public speaker, somehow making her announcement sound like a victory speech even though her campaign

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