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Global Health Nursing Research Targets Stability in Democratic Republic of Congo

Posted: 7/26/2010

A recently funded program, "Health, Stigma Reduction, and Economic Empowerment for Women and Girl Survivors of Sexual Violence in South Kivu, DRC," aims to advance the health, economic, and social well-being of women and girls in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo.

In partnership with two Congolese NGOs working in health and economic development, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) associate professor Nancy Glass, PhD, MPH, RN is using part of a $99,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State Office of Women's Issues to establish awareness of sexual violence and help provide economic stability for women and families in the DRC.

Statistics show that in the DRC between 2000-2007 1,678 people were killed, 1,554 were kidnapped, and 4,354 women and girls were raped (of whom 217 were under the age of 15.) In that same time period, 25 schools were closed and 12 health centers destroyed, and 18,802 cows and 8,625 goats were stolen, reducing the level of available healthcare services and economic livelihoods of the local population.

According to Glass, "The goal of this grant is to educate the population of South Kivu about sexual violence and facilitate survivor's reintegration with their families, while providing microfinancing loans to improve rural women's economic stability."

That microfinancing comes in the form of Pigs for Peace, an initiative started by Glass which provides a pig, a pen, food, and veterinary care for one pig that Congolese women can raise as a source of income. Money generated from the Pigs for Peace program has already helped hundreds of women provide suitable shelter for their families, buy food and supplies, and even provide an education for their children.

"In other countries, microfinance has done wonders for improving the lives of poor, rural women," notes Glass. "Empowering women economically leads to increased gender equity in the society, and that means improved health for women and their children."

Glass is a nurse clinician, a researcher, a cross-discipline bridge builder, and an educator. She is currently working in the DRC and is blogging about her experiences. 

At the School of Nursing, her research and practice expertise in public health, health disparities and intimate partner violence reflect the focus of the The Johns Hopkins University on global health threats, particularly in developing countries. Her research work centers on clinical care and intervention in the areas of violence prevention and health disparities.