Could YOU turn off your mobile for just one day to make a stand for the victims of war, sexual violence and corruption in Africa? That’s the question being asked this weekend – on Sunday 30th June.
Woman to Woman, an initiative of Micah Challenge International to highlight the contribution women can make to ending poverty, has launched the ‘Your Call’ action. It aims to show the connection between the mining of coltan, a valuable metal used in all mobiles, laptops and tablets, and violence against the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a region rich in coltan but plagued by war.
‘We need to speak out about the alarming links between consumer demand for smaller and faster technology, DRC’s coltan wealth and widespread violence and rape especially against innocent women, ’ said Amanda Jackson, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Micah Challenge.
Over the last 18 years, seven nations have been involved in a war which has claimed the lives of more than five million people, seen nearly a quarter of a million women raped or sexually assaulted, and resulted in one million people being displaced, causing a humanitarian disaster. (1)
Violent militia groups that attack girls and women are sustained by a corrupt trade in valuable minerals like coltan which is a super-conductor vital for capacitors in mobile phones, tablets and laptops. The explosion in demand for mobile computer technology has pushed up the price of coltan and there has been a rush of new mining operations, with DRC becoming a major producer. However, 80% of its coltan is traded illegally, and this contributes to the on-going conflict. It is repeatedly asserted that individuals and groups in countries bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo including Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi are involved in smuggling coltan from Congo, using the revenue to fund arms for the various opposing militia within DRC.
“Despite the horror of the war raging across this part of the world, its victims are largely forgotten, its perpetrators avoid justice and too often, the Church has remained silent when it should speak out. Now it’s time for us to take a stand. We should cry for the suffering of women in Congo but we should also protest against it through our activism,” Amanda Jackson continued.
‘Your Call’ is working with Raise Hope for Congo to put pressure on producers of mobiles and laptops to be more rigorous in ensuring that the coltan they use in their products is responsibly sourced.
“If we persuade the technology providers to ensure their products are ‘conflict free’ it will be a vital step to cutting off money to militia groups which perpetuate violence and the misery of many millions of people across the DRC,” said Amanda Jackson.
“Your Call’ is calling on everyone to turn off their phones, tablets, laptops and other mobile devices on Sunday June 30th, to highlight the issues and to sensitise our hearts and minds to the things on God’s heart which are so often invisible to us. We also want thousands to send an email message to major mobile providers that while we might enjoy using our phones, we want them to be ‘conflict free.’ We are calling especially on the two billion women and girls across the world who own a mobile phone to stand up for the rights of women in the DRC who are suffering directly because of the continued violence against them and around them, which in part is being funded by the illegal mining of coltan.” (2)
‘Your Call’ has been backed across the world including in DRC itself. Joyce Shiuza, the head of evangelical women in the Congo is encouraging women there to get involved.
Lynne Hybels, Christian leader and writer in the USA has lent her support to Your Call. She says "I have been to the Democratic Republic of Congo and seen vulnerable girls and women who are victims of violence and rape. And I have cried!” Another high profile supporter is Christian worship leader and song writer Darlene Zschech. The Anglican Communion, the Church of Scotland Guild and Girls Brigade International are also encouraging people to get involved.
‘Your Call’ is backed by EXPOSED, a wider anti-corruption campaign of Christians who are calling for integrity in Church, business and government. Congo’s plight is a clear example of corruption in the supply chain that leads to terrible violence.
There are two specific ways in which you can get involved in ‘Your Call’:
1.Click here to email major phone providers asking them to invest in making their supply chains transparent and to produce conflict-free products using the action tool created by Raise Hope for Congo: w2wglobal.org/yourcall (3)
2. Do the PHONE FAST to raise awareness on the issue. Join groups in Congo and around the world on Sunday 30 June 2013 (Independence Day in the DRC) by turning off your phones and other mobile devices for 24 hours.
- ENDS –
NOTES TO EDITORS
For interviews on this subject please contact:
Amanda Jackson, Head of HEAD of POLICY and CAMPAIGNS, MICAH CHALLENGE INTERNATIONAL - [email protected] Tel: +44 7545351956
Joel Edwards, International Director, MICAH CHALLENGE – [email protected] Tel: 020 7367 6571
Or contact - Cathy Le Feuvre, Media Consultant [email protected] Tel: 07889 321 638
Or email - [email protected]
About Micah Challenge
Micah Challenge is a global movement active in over 40 countries whose aim is to encourage Christians to be committed to the poor, and hold governments accountable to the Millenninum Development Goals, signed by 189 countries in the year 2000 wich committed to halving world poverty by the year 2015.
The Micah Challenge logo is available for use on request
2. Research by Ofcom in the UK shows that girls aged 12-15 send 40% more texts in a typical week than boys - 221 compared with 164. Woman to Woman believes that it is vital to raise awareness among this group regarding the injustice being suffered by women in the Congo, and the global links between sexual violence, coltan and our mobile phones.
3. The email generated by your filling out the form to be found on http://www.micahchallenge.org.uk/engage/w2w/647-your-call#sthash.ZBSUYibi.dpuf will go to major phone companies: Dell, RIM (Blackberry), Apple, Canon, Sharp, Panasonic, Toshiba, Nokia, Acer, Motorola, Nintendo, Samsung, Intel, Sandisk, LGE, Philips, Sony Ericsson, IBM, and Lenovo.