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March 31, 2022

Leadership Perspectives from Congolese Women in Legal Careers

The American Bar Association (ABA), through its Law Scholarship (LS) and Internship Program, hosted an annual International Women's Day Breakfast Roundtable: Women in Legal Careers - Leadership Perspectives on March 8, 2022. It was an opportunity for ABA alumni and current scholarship recipients to discuss topics such as the emergence and promotion of women's leadership in the DRC with a focus on the judicial sector and the participation of women lawyers in decision-making processes. 

The discussion was divided into different topics of interest and the conversation was kicked off with a short presentation: Women in Legal Careers in the DRC by Rita SALAMA, a former LS program beneficiary, lawyer at the North Kivu bar, currently employed at ABA as a technical supervisor of civil society organizations. The second sub-theme was Leadership and Women's Empowerment presented by Nina CHIZUNGU, an LS program intern at the ABA legal clinic in Goma. The last discussion point on the agenda was experiences between fellows in their daily and professional life, which allowed for a meaningful exchange between former and current scholarship recipients.

During the open floor session, Merveilles NGALYA BUBALA, a second-year undergraduate student, emphasized the importance of women's financial independence by illustrating the management of her small business selling shoes after school which helped her build a house. Another LS program intern, HANGI LUTONDO, who is doing her professional internship at the auditorate, said her ambition is to work in the military judiciary given the lack of female magistrates in that judicial branch. 

While discussing diverse aspects of women's empowerment, a second-year student, Carine AKASA KAKASI, said that as a single mother who advocates for women's empowerment by encouraging women to have a law degree, she sees that often women are sexually harassed in their profession, and sometimes abused and forced to put aside their values to get into certain positions in the legal career. In addition, LS program intern Nina CHIZUNGU spoke about integrating associations for capacity building because she finds it very useful as an artist, who popularizes women's rights through painting and poems. The success of integrating the humanitarian world while advocating for women’s rights was an approach discussed by scholarship recipient Deborah BWAMI. Deborah is a third-year student, who works for an NGO that protects and promotes the rights of vulnerable children and women in Goma. She finds it rewarding to carry out activities in rural areas to help widows and orphans, improving their entrepreneurial skills to empower these vulnerable women, as well as formulating advocacy initiatives to improve the situation of orphans of armed conflict. 

This very important roundtable once again demonstrated the excellence of the ABA Legal Program's alumni network and instilled hope that women's leadership in the DRC is very much on the rise.

Learn more about ABA ROLI’s work across Africa.