About the Exhibition

Beauty in the Middle: Women of Congo Speak Out presents the story of the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the women grassroots activists who have mobilized against incredible odds to end rape, and find a way to justice and peace.

In February 2014, the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict travelled to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with award-winning photographer Pete Muller (Time Magazine, National Geographic, New York Times), and filmmakers Jon Bougher and Kohl Threlkeld, to capture the work of grassroots women activists. Stories were captured in Bunia, Beni and surrounding area (North Kivu), and Bukavu and surrounding area (South Kivu).

During the Campaign delegation, Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee was asked by a journalist what she witnessed in eastern Congo. Leymah said that she saw a lot of violence and conflict, and sexual violence. But within this context of violence, embedded in every story was another story: women came to support the survivors.  Women activists take survivors to the hospital, help them push their case in the courts, or even just rub their back and hold their baby. Within the context of all of this conflict and violence, these women are the Beauty in the Middle.

This unique exhibition features a collection of photographs and videos telling the stories of these women – both activists and survivors – in a visual and powerful way. The exhibit illustrates how conflict and sexual violence significantly impact the lives of women in the DRC, every day.

Available to tour national and international galleries and cultural spaces, the Beauty in the Middle Photo Exhibition provides an opportunity to bring together survivors and activists, government officials, NGO development agencies and other agents of social change. Few will leave unaffected – and many will be inspired to take action for change.