Media development organisations

Media development organisations in DRC also have the form of non-profit organisations. One of the oldest one is the Union Congolaise des Femmes des Médias (Congolese Union of Media Women - UCOFEM), which is a member organisation of the Congolese civil society which was created in 1997 by a group of women journalists committed to promoting the rights of women and their leadership position by and through the media. Its purpose is of promoting the rights of its members. With more than 300 members, all women, UCOFEM is established throughout the DRC fighting for equal opportunities through the promotion of gender-specific rights and through the fight against discrimination. The impact of the work of Congolese NGOs in general is low because of the very low level of their professionalisation and their institutional and operational capacities. However UCOFEM constitutes an important organisation which pleads essentially on the citizen participation of the woman. It is an opportunity in the fight for equal rights in this country where women, poorly educated and burdened by various customs constraints, are often left out of spaces where important decisions are made.

The Observatoire des Médias Congolais (Observer for Congolese Media - OMEC) was set up at the end of the Congrès de la refondation (Re-foundation Congress) of journalism in March 2004 to support the UNPC in the work of internal monitoring of the professional ethics and professional conduct of journalists. It was intended as an internal court of peers, to judge journalists on purely professional faults. It is struggling to function because of the same flaws that affect the UNPC and it needs to be strengthened operationally in order to constitute a real hub of protection of media professionals and an alternative to the prosecution against journalists by holders of power (military, economic, political, etc) on the background of their refusal of media criticism.

Some of the associations mentioned in Journalist associations are also active as media development organisations: UNPC as it should in principle bring together all Congolese media professionals and JED as its training sessions on several occasions have strengthened, to a certain extent, the professional capacities of several actors in the field.