UN Women launches African Women Leaders Network of Congo

Date: Thursday, December 14, 2017

Galvanizing a movement of women leaders across Africa to play an important role in transforming Africa, through the Africa Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Group photo of women leaders with guests of honour. Photo - UN Women DRC
Group photo of women leaders with guests of honour. Photo - UN Women DRC

Kinshasa, December 14, 2017 – In order to allow national ownership of the results of the High-Level Forum on Women Leaders for the Transformation of Africa held in New York from May 31 to June 2, 2017, UN Women, in collaboration with the participants who constituted the DRC delegation during the forum, has organized a workshop to provide feedback about the forum and to launch the African Women Leaders Network of Congo.

From left to right: Mr. Thomas Terstegen, Mrs. Awa Ndiaye Seck, Mrs. Chantal Safou and Mrs. Thérèse Olenga. Photo - UN Women DRC
From left to right: Mr. Thomas Terstegen, Mrs. Awa Ndiaye Seck, Mrs. Chantal Safou and Mrs. Thérèse Olenga. Photo - UN Women DRC

This launch event was attended by the Minister of Gender, Child and Family, Ms Chantal Safou, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany Mr. Thomas Terstegen, the Ambassador of the African Union in the DRC, Mr. Abdou Abarry, the provincial Minister of Gender of the city of Kinshasa, Ms. Thérèse Olenga and women leaders of the DRC.

In her words of circumstance, Ms. Awa Ndiaye Seck, UN Women Representative in the DRC presented the genesis of the Network and its importance to the DRC: "I want to point out that this network is the first network launched in Africa! "

The first forum was organized by the African Union Commission, the Federal Republic of Germany and UN Women. It brought together more than 80 women leaders, women politicians, women of the public sector, women entrepreneurs, women of civil society organizations and women of the media. It resulted in the launch of the African Women Leaders Network, a new initiative that aims to strengthen women's leadership in Africa's transformation by focusing on governance, peace and stability.

The Ambassador of the African Union in the DRC, Mr. Abdou Abarry, welcomed the launch and emphasized that the African Union will fully support the initiative. He added that: "The interest of the African Union in this network is not a coincidence. The year 2016 had been declared the year of the woman and the year 2017 wants to take advantage of Africa’s demographic dividend. And the African woman, particularly the Congolese constitute a major percentage of the demographic dividend ".

For Thomas Terstegen, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in the DRC, the German Government salutes this movement and vouches to accompany this process and to promote the added value that this network brings to the DRC. He recalled: "We often talk about the potential wealth of the DRC, let's not forget also about the potential that is the woman! "

The Minister of Gender, Child and Family, Mrs. Chantal Safou recalled that the kind of female leadership that the DRC needs is one that is committed and encouraged, that inspires the political participation of all women, the fight against violence; a leadership that promotes women's economic empowerment, girl's education and peace and security. She added: "Let's try not to forget the woman at the base, the courageous woman who seeks solutions to every day life’s issues, so that the DRC can progress inclusively".

To symbolize the unity of the Network, all women leaders and guests held hands. Photo - UN Women DRC
To symbolize the unity of the Network, all women leaders and guests held hands. Photo - UN Women DRC

On behalf of the "pioneering" women who represented the DRC at the New York sessions in June 2017, Ms. Marie Louise Mwange, politician and Honorary Minister of Gender, Child and Family and Mrs. Eve Bazaiba, Member of Parliament and politician presented successively the feedback and conclusions from the New York Forum commitments as well as the upcoming activities of the African Women Leaders Network.

During the New York Forum, women leaders agreed to establish and maintain an inclusive network that includes the diversity of women and young women in leadership positions in all sectors of society, encouraging the appropriation of the network among women leaders through membership and mobilization of women from all sectors, promoting solidarity among African women and cultivating strategic partnerships with existing and emerging networks, nurturing women's leadership through exchanges and documentation of lessons learned and experiences; mentoring young women leaders through intergenerational dialogue and creation of relevant platforms and finally, to host the next meeting of the Forum in Addis Ababa in February 2018.

At the end of the ceremony, the young women of the Afia Mama NGO, introduced the platform of the Congolese women leaders - http://femmesleadersrdc.org/ - a UN Women initiative to promote online networking of women leaders. This directory of women leaders in the DRC aims to raise awareness about the women leaders, their roles and their fields of activity.