Undergraduate Programs for 80 Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Project location: Congo, Democratic Republic, Kwango
Project start date: June 2011 - Project end date: July 2014
Project number: 2011-27

The project consists in a three-year higher education program for women in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it aims to encourage the development and growth of women's role in society and to prevent poverty, misery and prostitution. The NPF grant will allow eighty women to attend a three-year course for nurses and midwives at the Institute Medical Technician Marie Reine de la Paix of Kenge, a public medical facility in the DRC.

The overall goal is to offer a school education that fosters the conditions for the development of women, as well as prevent inflictions such as poverty, disease and prostitution.

As happens across the entire African continent, in the province of Bandundu families prefer to invest in the education of sons at the expense of daughters who are usually forced to marry when they finish primary school. Sometimes girls do not finish the normal schooling because they are forced to take on the household chores, and this only adds to their marginalization in society. It is estimated that in fact, to date in the Congo, only three percent of the female population has had access to higher education.

In Congo, just like in other African countries, women are the first victims of violence and still, they are incredibly able to resist and react with moral strength and organizational skills. That is why an educational plan for women also represents a good strategy for peace. Thanks to their innate maternal and emotional qualities, when they get the opportunity to study in the field of health care, women are naturally inclined to treat and assist patients.

Moreover, a high rate of mortality due to childbirth still persists in many African countries because of a lack of assistance for both mothers and children. So this project also represents an attempt to resolve such an emergency, by offering a course for nurses and providing qualified workers in the health field for the Province of Kwango (Congo).

70% of health facilities in the location consist of wood and straw huts where empirical staff work assisted by illiterate elderly midwives. It is vital, therefore, to ensure within the next three years a staff qualified to manage health care facilities and devices to assist with pregnancy and childbirth. The Kwando province medical inspector is part of the teaching body and is a member of the board of examiners.

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