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Empowering the Women of Africa for Peaceful ChangeJennifer Fierberg, MSW Salem-News.com
Economic independence for these women means making choices for the first time, having financial options and having a platform for freedom of speech.
(WASHINGTON D.C.) - Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Hate and force cannot be in just a part of the world without having an effect on the rest of it.”
The US State department stated in a recent report on sexual violence in the DR Congo that, “Women are a powerful voice for peace and an instrument of development when given the opportunity. Investing in women is not only the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.”
Africa is in the midst of a revolution where the people are demanding democracy on their terms. Some of the uprisings have been violent, some peaceful and many have gone unreported by the mainstream media.
Regardless, there is major change happening all over the continent. The one ongoing voice that has not been heard has been the voice of women in Africa.
Many believe that women are the voice of reason and change when it comes to the future, yet so many are silenced by horrific acts of war often in the form of rape. Yet, these women must not be silenced.
African women are characteristically selfless and give what they have to the benefit of the community. This is the mindset will bring forth peaceful change throughout the African continent.
In a recent presentation, Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa stated that women in leadership will lead the next revolution of healing and peace in our world. He stated, “When you empower women you empower children and nations.”
Time magazine recently highlighted a woman named Bineta Diop whose powerful story entitled “Advancing Africa one woman at a time” addressed this very issue. The piece stated that “women are the economic drivers of Africa, on average working twice as many productive hours as men.”
She further supported the notion that women are the peace builders of the future, “women led peace building in the most fragile states, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.”
Her campaign for gender partiality is empowering women to play a leading role in African Development.
Rena Deann, who traveled to Rwanda and the Congo in 2008 stated, “I believe empowering women in Africa, and really anywhere around the world will bring about a positive change, because by nature women are less violent than men, and more willing to negotiate and seek peaceful solutions.
They are also generally more nurturing and protective of others, starting of course with their own children and families, but extending to other people in general. This kind of mindset would certainly lead to a reduction in the number of wars around Africa, and indeed around the globe, as the first response would not be to use deadly force when faced with a conflict.”
Traditionally when a woman is raped in Africa she is shunned by her family, her children and put out by her husband. She is left to fend for herself without any means of income. That is where a welcoming place in the D.R. Congo helps to make a big difference in this cycle of violence. The Centre Kitumaini is a Congolese run community of empowerment and healing for 500 women and 2000 children near Bukavu, Congo.
The women who are welcomed into this community have suffered violent mass rape and this Center is a place of refuge, safety and treatment.
Here they receive basic medical attention, are taught marketable skills and grow their own food but most importantly gather together in fellowship, dance and song. The US Based NGO, Atma Foundation, has partnered with this center by first listening to the women and giving voice to their needs from their perspective.
These women have asked for ways to make their own sustainable income, ways to support their children and a means of receiving medical care.
Economic independence for these women means making choices for the first time, having financial options and having a platform for freedom of speech. These women now have the option of owning property, cars and embracing the power of ownership and the power that gives them a place of status in the community. The ability to have the power to choose creates generational empowerment.
Sisters, daughters, children and other family members will reap the benefits these African women are benefiting from. Freedom of speech brings forth a power that they have never known before. Freedom of speech brings forth change in ways they have never experienced before.
These women finally have the ability to choose for themselves and are not told what to do. The Atma Foundation conducts fundraisers that provide chickens, goats and seeds to this center in order to provide the starting point for women to begin their own sustainable lives.
Throughout time, grassroots organizations have been the origins of changing the world. When a person has a passion for change that passion sets fire to an idea and leads others into sharing in that passion.
Throughout history women have been the unsung heroes of change but not to their complaint. Many female leaders, past and current have sought to change the world for the better through education, nutrition of children, teaching younger generations how to lead their families and communities and how to endure under any circumstance. These are the serene characteristics that will lead to a revolutionary and peaceful change in Africa.
Violence is easy but leads no one to true freedom or democracy. It is a perpetual cycle that has been recurring in many parts of the continent.
Morrie Schwartz once said, “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” Let the women of Africa continue to rise up through the support of amazing organizations then peace and democracy will become a way of life.
Jennifer Fierberg is a social worker in the US working on peace and justice issues in Africa with an emphasis on the crisis in Rwanda and throughout the central region of Africa. Her articles have been published on many humanitarian sites that are also focused on changing the world through social, political and personal action.
Jennifer has extensive background working with victims of trauma and domestic violence, justice matters as well as individual and family therapy. Passionate and focused on bringing the many humanitarian issues that plague the African Continent to the awareness of the developed world in order to incite change. She is a correspondent, Assistant Editor, and Volunteer Coordinator for NGO News Africa through the volunteer project of the UN. Jennifer is also the media co-coordinator and senior funding executive for The Africa Global Village (www.africaglobalvillage.com) Jennifer comes to www.Salem-News.com with a great deal of experience and passion for working to stop human right violation in Africa.
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