Martine Kaliza Mirindi is an alumna of the 2013/14 Leadership Institute promoting women’s and girls’ rights and advocating for peaceful resolution of conflicts in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is the founder of Women for Democracy and Fight against Violence (WDFV), is very passionate about serving and defending the rights of the most vulnerable. Martine holds an Advanced Degree in Law, specializing in Private and Judicial law from Université Ouverte/CIDP-Nord –Kivu completed in 2007 Martine intends to join political leadership to apply her innovative ideas for the common good of the people of the DRC. She is also passionate about a number of things including love, nature, music, drama, dance.
Martine, the Natural Leader
“I am passionate about feminist leadership and often I think for me it was inborn because even in our family, there is no decision that can be taken without my say. This applies to my work as well as in all the associations and groups where I belong, I am always chosen as a leader. I believed that the institute would help me to gain sufficient knowledge and the necessary tools on leadership.”
Participating in the 2013/14 Leadership Institute on Peace Building and Human Security
Martine chose to take part in the institute in order to enhance her leadership and peace building skills but also understand the experiences of other women leaders. The institute lived up to her expectations and she readily lists some of the key lessons that are maki a difference in her work.
“I clearly understood, what it means to be a leader, how one becomes a leaders and ways to overcome our challenges as women leaders. The facilitators positively impacted my time with the institute.We always had to give feedback about what we had learnt during the training and mine was always positive feedback. It was quite a good interaction because it strengthened both the young women and senior members of civil society organizations in the training.“
Following the training, Martine was able to work out different strategies in order to succeed even in small things that she often neglected but were very important for the community. She raised awareness among women who were not formally educated, to get them involved in public life at the grassroots level. Martine replicated her institute experience and focused on strengthening the women’s leadership skills for the benefit of the community.
Challenges of Women’s Leadership
Despite her passion and drive, Martine talks about the challenges demoralizing women peace builders. She mentions stigma, the lack of meaningful progress in the fight to promote women’s rights, and some men who are opposed to the common cause of women’s empowerment.
“In order to overcome these challenges, we have been organizing meetings among women themselves as well as those with men in order to discuss and share knowledge on themes about women’s rights advancement. It has helped a lot in bringing cohesion and harmony as well as leading to some men to be part of the women’s cause.”
Martine has several plans and dreams for African women, for instance, giving them the opportunity to design projects and receive support to meet the needs of vulnerable people. She hopes to use all she has learned from various trainings to contribute to enriching women’s work.
“I have attended several training sessions at the national level in Kinshasa, at the provincial level in Nord Kivu and South Kivu as well as on the international level in Burundi, Rwanda, Thailand and Uganda. The trainings focused on advocacy, electoral processes, gender-based violence, UNSCR 1325, civic education, gender and elections, restorative justice, gender and protection, leadership and gender mainstreaming in projects.“
Advice to Younger Women Leaders
Martine advises, “In order to be able to participate in the decision making processes, join non-violent movements, women groups or political parties. Engage in entrepreneurship so as to economically empower yourself as a young leaders. Consider attending the Leadership Institute.”
In closing, Martine highlights the importance of solidarity among women as critical to promoting gender equality in professional life and in day to day activities.