Development of Congolese Women

Development of Congolese Women

by Lillian Moir

by Lillian Moir

The Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo is working on a two-pronged approach to development of economic and leadership skills of women of the church.

In a report to the Global Ministries Africa office of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, the church in Congo observed that “The liberation of women can only come effectively when women have also acquired economic and political power.  Economic power will permit them to be free from dependence on men and political power will permit them to be present in decision making.”

To address the economic situation, the church’s Sub-Department of Women and Family, directed by Rev. Christiane Ikete Engetele, began training women in sewing and clothing design. Once trained, the women will have the skills to launch money- making occupations which will improve their financial situations.

This project is in its second session, with 10 women in training scheduled to end next April‑May.  The first group of 10 women have completed their training as seamstresses and have entered the business world. 

On the leadership level, the church is engaged in helping women understand issues related to gender by holding a national seminar. “It is not possible to speak of promoting women, nor of equality, as long as women have not yet mastered the terms of gender and of leadership,” Rev. Engetele reported.

The difference between men and women is only biological and, therefore, desired by God the Creator, said Rev. Engetele “This can in no way justify the division of work based on sex. Competence is the only factor that should be taken into account in an occupation or position.  If women don’t develop real leadership, they will always trail behind men who will continue to treat them as they wish,” Rev. Engetele added.

During a seminar on gender, participants pledged to:

  • Fight against injustice between men and women.
  • Train competent personnel for the promotion of gender.
  • Promote positive gender practices among men, women, and young people.
  • Encourage the promotion of effective and competent Christian leadership.
  • Reinforce the capacities of everyone at all levels.
  • Respect human rights and endeavor to make them known.
  • Combat violence in all its forms.

Timing of the emphasis was welcomed by the church as the Democratic Republic of Congo also recognizes the equality between men and women constitutionally.

The church in Congo was started by the Disciples of Christ in 1898. The church became independent in 1964. North American Disciples relate to the church through the Africa Office of Global Ministries.