It’s the season of exam results and school breaking up in the UK – and July was also graduation time for many of the women we serve in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Last month saw ceremonies and celebrations across several communities in South Kivu, eastern DRC, where 600 women (24 training groups) graduated from our 12-month social and economic empowerment programme. These groups were part of a 5-year project funded by The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW) programme – which aims to strengthen marginalised women’s self-reliance and tackle violence.
But the spotlight was firmly on the women and their success stories. Amidst the speeches, singing and dancing, we asked a few of them to share what they would take away from their year of training, and what the experience had meant for them.
The monthly training stipend
The monthly training stipend (the equivalent of around $10) is a key part of the programme – it’s a vital step for women who have often been excluded from earning income and making decisions on how money is spent. Many women save up their stipends to help them purchase resources to establish their businesses, as well as to help cover their household needs while in training.
Recent programme data from DRC – collected through participant surveys – shows the impact of our training in measurable terms: women reported increasing their monthly earnings from an average of $16.72 at enrollment to $49.70 at graduation, and again to $60 one year after the programme. And at graduation, 11% of participants reported running for a leadership position in their communities, while 62% run one year after completing the programme.
We’re profoundly grateful to The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their transformative investment in the women we serve in the DRC.
As this cohort of 600 women moves on to the next phase of their journey, there are many more women waiting for an opportunity to build self-reliance and create change for themselves and their communities.
Help us reach our goal
We desperately need more sponsors to help fund their training. Could you sponsor a woman through our training programme over the next 12 months, and give her a life-changing opportunity?
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