Adolescents Club members posing with Madam Pauline
International Medical Corps inspires young women on International African Child Day:
On International African Child Day (June 16th), International Medical Corps’ Women in Leadership team (WiLEAD) organized an awareness session with girls in Kadutu, located in the Bukavu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). WiLEAD is a group of women that work to promote female leadership in the DRC by partnering with local women’s organizations and schools. During this particular promotional event, the young women were asked to list the people who inspired them.
Most of the girls identified their own mother as their inspiration; they recognized the challenges their mothers face while raising a large family, a commonality in the region. Few of the girls were able to identify an inspiration outside of their own family. Spurred by this, the Women in Leadership team invited local female leaders to speak with the adolescent girls to show them the types of leadership roles they could aspire to hold. Meeting these women leaders also provided an alternative positive female role model the girls could identify with and emulate.
Opportunities for women to express themselves:
But it isn’t only adolescent females that have a problem being seen as community leaders – seasoned female leaders still have difficulty being heard in Congo as well. Women’s groups have been unable to celebrate International Women’s Day due to lack of financial support, which limits their ability to raise awareness or carry out activities to promote women as leaders.
This year, however, International Medical Corps organized a separate event and invited government officials to meet with women’s associations and local groups in order to hear their questions and concerns. Government officials were educated on the issues female leaders face, and these officials promised to work further with the women’s groups in the future. Ms. Vanantie Bimwa, Executive Secretary of the Women’s Association for Development and Peace had this to say about the meeting:
“On this day, March 8th, International Women’s Day, the women of South Kivu, including those from the grassroots level association, got a real opportunity to talk, thanks the support of International Medical Corps which brought women association together. Usually, when we attend ceremonies, we cannot say what we think or ask the government about the progress for women’s development in our province. This time, we had our own activity supported by International Medical Corps where local government representatives were invited to listen to us and answer some of our questions. As a result of this activity, we have several working sessions planned with the Governor of the province of South Kivu to discuss the issue of the development for women.”
We thank you for your continued support in the Democratic Republic of Congo – with your help, we make a difference!