Co-founder and president of the organization Promotion et appui aux initiatives féminines (PAIF), created in 1993, Immaculée Birhaheka is nowadays one of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) leading women's rights advocates.
The PAIF began as an effort to empower women by advocating for political rights of women within the DRC's public sphere. The focus was on educating local women about their legal rights, while Immaculée began the long arduous road of sensitizing the DRC authorities to international law and basic human rights.
During the MEA Ceremony and as guest in the television programme ZigZagCafé, Immaculée said that it was "high time that human rights defenders around the world, because of their brave work, benefit from special protection." This call-to-help was part of a NGO campaign to pressurize the then UN Commission on Human Rights to create a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, which was eventually established later that year.
In June 2006 Immaculée received the National Endowment for Democracy Award for her dedication to the protection and promotion of women's rights and her leading efforts to end the massive rape of women and girls in eastern Congo.
Immaculée's international reputation has helped support and strengthen her grassroots work in the DRC on behalf of victims of rape. Her work has been an inspiration to all Congolese women seeking empowerment through peace and independence.
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