Noella Kabale Kalu is a Gender Equality Activist, Social Entrepreneur, Peace Mediator in the Congolese refugee community in Kampala and an alumna of our 2020 Feminist Leadership Institute. Following her training, Noella has been able to share the knowledge acquired within her community, create intensive awareness around peacebuilding and conflict resolution, and mediate conflict amongst community members at the household and community level using the feminist ideology of promoting love, empathy, and unity.
When I joined the Feminist Leadership Institute in 2020, I wanted to further understand the concept of peacebuilding and conflict resolution using the feminist lens and strength my capabilities, to effectively participate in peacebuilding at all levels. Throughout the institute, I was able to define what peace meant to me as an individual and as a refugee. The institute was an eye-opener in itself, a call for more women affected by conflict to start taking lead and reflect on our contribution as peace agents.
Noella looks back at her Feminist journey that started at an early age due to her passion for gender equality.
My eternal desire to serve my fellow women inspired my advocacy strategies, concerns and interventions into women issues. This came down from my mother because she introduced me to different women’s spaces and wanted me to own those spaces. This was the start for me and I have never looked back. I have been involved in community development work since 2013, started as a community activist against Gender-Based Violence at different refugee agencies but later on, I decided to create my own platform that gives voices to refugees mostly women.
After the institute, Noella created a space to engage refugee women and young women to share, learn and unlearn how to respond to peace and conflict at the community and family level, mediate and refer incidences for further support. The space has also created a bond of sisterhood among the women. “I feel grounded with the knowledge I have and bold enough to demand the visibility and inclusion of grassroots women in peace processes,” says Noella
Noella shares that despite her passion, she continues to be challenged by inadequate resources to provide timely responses especially in GBV cases whenever they occur. “COVID-19 created a total disruption for the kind of work I do” Noella added. She shared that it worsened conflict on both the family and community level due to the movement restrictions imposed by the Ugandan government. My work requires physical engagement and follow-ups but it became impossible.
My key priorities for women, peace and security as a young woman from Democratic Republic of Congo is to greatly contribute to the advancement of the peace and security agenda and make peace not a commitment but rather a reality. I intend to do this by empowering fellow young women with knowledge around peace building and conflict resolution, so that we can work on the defined priority. Over time, I hope to create a strong movement of women peace builders and mediators that are able oversee the situation around peace and security and inform the decision making processes at all levels- Noella Kabale.
Noella strongly believes in the great healing power of women. She especially encourages young women aspiring to lead, to grab all opportunities presented to them to lead and grow their networks. “I’m very convinced that women working together, linked, informed and educated can bring peace, security and prosperity into what feels like a forsaken world.” Being exposed to other women peacebuilders was a learning and experience sharing moment. I got to learn how others are championing peacebuilding in their communities. Their stories really motivated my day to day engagement and contributed to my personal growth and development.
In activism work, wellness and self-care practices need to be incorporated to avoid burnout. Noella emphasized the importance of wellness in her activism. Noting “I have acknowledged that it is okay to take a break and have time to heal from the burden and burn out as a result of workload. I read a book, do aerobic exercises, create time to appreciate and celebrate the little win as I’m trying to recover. I also do yoga or visit a psychologist or talk to a friend I do trust.”
Noella is very passionate about peacebuilding, conflict resolution, feminist leadership and entrepreneurship. She continues to dream and hope for the DRC and Africa as a whole is to see women making peace and security a reality, by building with their intellect the Africa we want to see in a measured and deliberate manner.