Changing the status quo for women in Nganda Yala and surrounding areas
The Gertler Family Foundation (GFF) is partnering with HCK to initiate a novel education and outreach project to address the issues facing the women of Nganda Yala and surrounding communities, chief among them the high rate of childbirth. Of special concern is the number of young girls who become mothers, many already with three to four children by the age of 18. This cycle of large families, no education and lack of access to vital resources has resulted in a feeling of abandonment and hopelessness among the women of Kinshasa.
Developing a strategic plan
Pregnant women are one of the most vulnerable members of the Congolese population. The Congo has one of the highest rates of mortality due to pregnancy in the world. Anything that can be done to reverse these trends is the main focus of NGOs, such as GFF, and medical personnel in the Congo.
GFF and HCK have developed a strategic plan to implement education and empowerment projects to help the women of Nganda Yala change the story of their lives. Before beginning, they conducted a community assessment, bringing together the women to discuss the basic elements of building a healthy female society, such as:
- The necessity of education to women’s physical, emotional, and economic well-being
- The role of women in their families, their community and their nation
- The value of women and important contributions that they make to the greater society
- The challenges and threats to their success
Following the community meetings there ensued a great deal of excitement and optimism among the girls and women, many of whom expressed that they were praying for something like this for a long time. The girls and women want to reverse the status of being a discarded member of the community, limited to childbirth and manual labor. For the younger women, their thoughts were more focused on education, a desire to have options and to be able to access the same kinds of positions in society as their male counterparts. Unfortunately, in spite of the desire, girls are rarely given a chance to learn, because families cannot afford to educate them and their sons, and the boys are given preference. Instead, girls are taught about how to be a mother and encouraged to marry early and begin their family.
Goals and objectives
GFF and its partner facilitators mapped out the following goals and objectives based upon the community assessment:
- Identify life goals
- Assess strengths and gifts
- Identify threats and challenges blocking the road to achievement
- Develop a plan to overcome these challenges and threats
- Understand the unique role of women in society, their role in their community and to visualize themselves as key to their community and their nation’s development
- To become completely literate in French: reading, writing and ability to verbally communicate at a high level
- To learn microeconomic skills such as sewing, farming and small business development
- To complete primary education and continue to post-secondary studies
It is a vast undertaking, but with the support of GFF, community activists, facilitators and the enthusiasm of the women of Kinshasa, the path to a much improved future for this community of Congolese women is paved for success.