Friday, 13 December 2013

Ten Congolese female leaders you should know about

For some (un)justified reasons, my country has often been portrayed as the worse place a woman could live in. Women from my country are often portrayed as poor victims who fail to mobilise and transform their misfortune. In this short article, I compile ten profiles of Congolese female leaders I am really proud of. There are so many more Congolese female leaders that should be portrayed, and this is a bigger project I am involved in. But for a start, let's meet these ten female Congolese leaders from the South Kivu, Kinshasa and the USA. The short bio as well as the pictures have been borrowed from online articles or from their own homepages. Some of these female leaders have foreign citizenship but their actions still focus on empowering men and women from the DRC.
The list is alphabetical:

- Patience Barandenge:
Responsible for entrepreneurs women’s market with a program for Small Businesses run by women in partnership with IFC (World Bank)
- My duties: Researching growth opportunities and contributing to the portfolio development of entrepreneurs women, regularly monitoring the accounts for credit purposes, increasing sales, organizing focus groups in order to identify and collect customers’ needs in terms of financial services and creating solutions (products) and conducting sales promotions of the program on national level (the entire bank’s network).

- Adolphine Byayuwa Muley: Minister of Environment and Agriculture within the South Kivu (RDC) government. As secretary-general of UEFA Adolphine Muley held various positions in national platforms for pygmies in DRC and forums of consultations between the Government and the civil society on issues of environmental organizations, forest issues and climate change. At the international level, she has participated in numerous meetings of indigenous peoples around the globe. In recent years she has also become increasingly active in international advocacy on climate change.

-Amini Kajunju, Democratic Republic of Congo. President & CEO, Africa-America Institute (Named Forbes’ 20 Young Power Women In Africa 2013).
A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Amini Kajunju is the President & CEO of the Africa-America Institute, and the first African woman to serve at the helm of the oldest nonprofit organization of its kind in the United States. Kajunju joined the Africa-America Institute in October 2012 from the New York-based Workshop in Business Opportunities (WIBO) where she had served as Executive Director for 10 years. Under her leadership, Kajunju has bolstered the organization’s programming and served more entrepreneurs than any other institution of a similar size in New York City.

- Isabelle Katalayi Ebambi (dite Bambi): Financial Director of the National Employment Board (ONEM: Office National de l’Emploi). She also chairs a private entreprise called Congo Recrutement though which she helps Congolese youth define their career objectives and get competitive in the employment market of the DRC.

- Sarah M. Kazadi
A multimedia journalist based in New York City. What exactly does that mean, you ask? It means that I can independently craft a story from idea to publication for a print, broadcast or online audience. My work has been featured on various platforms, including Newsweek, the CBS Sports Network, and the Amsterdam News.
Though I’m comfortable working in print or online, I’m most passionate about video journalism. I’ve spent the last few years lugging my camera around the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Philadelphia and New York City as a video journalist and producer. In the summer of 2012, I directed, shot and edited a short documentary entitled “ELIKYA,” which was an official selection for the International Black Film Festival of Nashville.
I’m currently splitting my time between freelancing for local news organizations and producing at the CBS Sports Network. You can view and download my entire résumé by clicking on the “Résumé” tab in the top bar.

- Marie Ange Lukiana,
Former Minister of Gender and the Status of Women, During her time in office, she initiated several reforms for Congolese women. Before she joined the Government she was the deputy secretary of PPRD, the rulling party since 2005. And prior to that, she was a key leader of the Catholic-laic leadership sphere nation wide.

- Shana Mongwanga:
Shana trained at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts drama school (London) and Mountview Acadermy of Theatre arts (London) and was the recipient of Dance and drama Award, in London and winner of the "Scenes a Deux" National contest in Belgium.
She has a Master in Political Science and is a Bachelor in Law from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium and worked for the Jesuit Refugee Service with asylum seekers and refugees for many years.
-2005 she founded the AFRICA LIVES! PRODUCTIONS which has been making films for Charities and and Companies promoting Social Change.
-2009, the organisation included AFRICALIVES! THEATRE to pursue the work by Belgian based theatre "Compagnie Théatrale Ebene et Ivoire".
-2010 it included AFRICALIVES! ART to showcase and support artwork from emerging artists from African background who are often absent on the world stage, although their works and influence are undeniable.
-In 2012 the organisation launched AFRICALIVES! NETWORKS in response to the growing need to provide efficient network structure for policy and advocacy to various project development, communities and organisations.

- Matilde Muhindo, Mathilde Muhindo has dedicated her life to the fight against the discrimination of women and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is the director of the Olame Centre in the province of South Kivu, which has been promoting women´s rights and the empowerment of women for more than 50 years.

- Chouchou Namegabe Dubuisson:
Journalist, radio broadcast producer and co-founder of the South Kivu Women’s Media Association (“Association des Femmes des Médias de Sud Kivu,” or AFEM), which she currently heads, activist Chouchou Namegabe is fiercely dedicated to fighting violence against women. She focuses on eradicating sexual violence used as a weapon of war, an evil that has poisoned the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for more than a decade.

- Dr. Aziza Aziz Suleyman: Gender specialist and GBV expert. (link to publication here and to interview here).
Deputy Coordinator psychosocial program, Great Lakes Region, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of Switzerland in R.D.Congo,Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Prior to joining the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, She successfully coordinated the GBV program of the South Kivu through UNFPA and was decorated by the Malta Order for her innovative and creative way of maping/treating GBV victims.

For more about these inspiring leaders, please lick on the links or write to me.
Declaration of interest: I have personnal affiliation to Dr. Aziz, and I have directly benefited from Miss Mathilde's programs.