Promoting Women’s Political Participation in the DRC Through Leadership Training
From February 28 to March 3, representatives from WLP’s Zimbabwe partner WSPM trained individuals in the Democratic Republic of Congo on inclusive political participation and women’s leadership. This Training of Trainers workshop took place in the city of Lubumbashi in the Katanga province, and was attended by 22 women and three men from 13 Civil Society Organizations and two government departments. The participants spanned in age from 18 to over 65, and came from diverse educational backgrounds in sociology, political science, business management, law, accounting, medical sciences, organizational leadership, and theology.
“Although the DRC government promotes equal participation…our traditional institutions and cultures continue to make it difficult for women’s empowerment.”
-Nicodeme Nguza Yav, Chief of Katanga’s Department of Social Welfare
WSPM’s goal for this workshop was to expand the WLP leadership training program to new regions and populations within the DRC. WSPM has worked in DRC for several years, mainly in the eastern city of Bukavu. The workshop in Lubumbashi reached new organizations and activists from the south of the country. The program aimed to provide skills and knowledge on women’s leadership to enable participants to spread the training to their own communities. This replication would motivate an increasing number of women to take up leadership positions in all spheres of life, ultimately to better serve the interests of both women and men at all decision-making levels.
Prior to the training, 20 of the female participants reported that they lacked self-confidence because they viewed themselves and other women as weak political candidates, an outlook widely perpetuated by the country’s traditionally patriarchal structures.
The Chief of the province’s Department of Social Welfare, Nicodeme Nguza Yav, echoed these sentiments during the training’s opening remarks. “Although the DRC government promotes equal participation of women and men in leadership, our traditional institutions and cultures continue to make it difficult for women’s empowerment,” he said. “There is a need for women to be equipped with knowledge and skills through this kind of training of trainers program.”
Upon completion of the training, participants formally agreed to commit themselves to be change leaders, act as role models, and pass on the knowledge gained to other women, girls, and men in their constituencies through replication trainings. All participants received copies of the WLP manuals Leading to Choices and Leading to Action to aid in these future trainings. A number of other advocacy initiatives were also established during the workshop, including an effort to promote women’s rights through girls’ education and local political lobbying; a project that aims to ensure at least 50% women’s representation in political decision-making by 2021; a campaign for free basic education for all; and the creation of an activism support network called Association des Femmes Leaders, or the Association for Empowered Women Leaders.