International Women’s Day on March 8th provides an important opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements while calling for greater equality around the world. This year’s theme, each for equal proclaims that an equal world is an enabled world. At Congo Initiative, we are committed to breaking down the barriers to gender equality in Congo. We stand in solidarity with those in Congo and around the world who desire to see the dignity, value, and contributions of women and girls lifted up and celebrated. We desire to see a Congo where they are given the opportunity to thrive and live into their God-given potential under Imago Dei.
Joining the call to be #eachforequal we believe an equal Congo is an enabled Congo. One group that inspires and leads this effort is UCBC’s Women’s Voices (WV). In a context where women experience disproportionate violence and abuse and are not encouraged or expected to exercise leadership, WV promotes women in leadership, gender equality, and celebrates achievements on campus and throughout society. Most recently, the group collaborated with Bethesda Counseling Center to promote positive masculinity, inviting more conversation with men to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, and broaden perceptions. Women’s Voices has inspired hundreds of current and past students.
In honor of International Women’s Day and the courageous members of Women’s Voices, we asked a few members the following questions:
1) What does an equal world is an enabled world mean to you in the context of Congo?
2) Tell us about a woman in your life that inspires you because of her achievements or mentorship?
3) What advice would you give to the next generation of women?
Third-year law student and new president of Women’s Voices
The evolution of the world today is proof enough that women are playing more and more a positive role in the development of the world. The intellectual and moral capacities of women play a huge role in their development and their commitment to society. This does not cancel out all the inequalities that have persisted for centuries and which have pushed men to exclude women from the decisive spheres of society.
One woman whose spirit and philosophy has marked me is Simone de Beauvoir. She affirms that one is not born a woman, but you become one. This implies that the values a women displays in society are acquired by her progressive education which molds her in order to make her capable of better serving society. Beauvoir explains, “So far the possibilities of women have been stifled and lost to humanity and it is high time in her interest and in that of all that we finally let her run all of her chances.” This helps us understand her fight. She fought her whole life for equality between men and women by promoting the dignity and value of women. She advocates that giving women a chance would better serve the interests of society.
The next generation of women need to celebrate themselves and understand that their contribution is of utmost importance in society. The inferiority complex often displayed and encouraged by men must now cease and be replaced by self-care. Men need to work with women in order to realize himself, not to dominate over her.
Fourth-year economics student
An equal world is powerful. If the Congo adopts this culture of equality and avoids seeking personal interests it would lead to a powerful and capable country. It is important to integrate women into this equality because they have potential which can be added for a powerful and capable Congo.
I am inspired by the first female president of UCBC’s student government, Aimée Mapenzi Wataluka. I am inspired by her determination, her dedication, her love for what she does, and her sense of service.
I tell the next generation of women to have a spirit of solidarity; to develop a sense of patience and understanding; to be decisive and avoid the spirit of giving up.
Fourth-year communications student
An equal world in Congo means women reach the end of their fight and are treated equal to men, so that women are also not only there for helping men, but equal when working together.
The woman who inspires me is my mother by her way of leading but also by her courage, hard work and incredible efforts to achieve.
An inspiring word I can give to the next generation of women is courage. Courage for her and those who choose to trust her.
Second-year communications student
Equality for women has capital importance on the whole because women have significant responsibilities in the community. She is at the center of several areas of social life and she is also one of the actors who can influence decisions. But she needs to be considered an important member of the community and not be underestimated. Equality is necessary because Congo will only develop and achieve through unity – and unity requires everyone should be treated equally.
Several women have inspired me by their great achievements, among others the woman who proved her courage and her capacity by accessing president position for the first time at the UCBC, Aimée Mapenzi Wataluka. She is a strong woman who demonstrates great leadership and gives herself to help students succeed. But also the biblical character, Ruth. There was nothing extraordinary but she chose just to serve and that is the greatest thing that can be given…Ruth didn’t know that one day her small gesture would lead to life. She taught me to use my strengths to serve the community.
To say, ‘the least we can do for others’ is already a great seed that will bear fruit. We do not have to be rich to serve but we can give what we have – time, advice, support, encouragement, etc.
I want to tell the next generation of women that it is not the gender that will distinguish us but the competence that we will show in our leadership.
Fourth-year communications student and first female president of UCBC’s student government
An equal world in Congo means that women and girls must be treated equally, particularly in professional life [careers]. In my country, women and men have not been treated equally. In some parts of the country, women are not yet conscious about their role in society.
A woman who inspires me is my mentor, Adelphine Angemito. She encourages me to have good self-esteem and motivates me through leading by example in her work. She takes the time to mentor other women and increase their confidence in themselves. I think she is the person God put in front of me to bring me to where I am today.
My message for the next generation of women is to work hard to merit this equality that we are reclaiming.