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Going against cultural norms is no easy task. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) women are not encouraged to build their own homes yet, but that’s exactly what 26-year-old Yoali did.
Yoali, a mother of four from the Kumu tribe in the DRC’s Maniema Province, was forced to live in a collapsed house after her husband abandoned her. In her tribe, it is customary for only men to build homes, yet through the USAID-funded USHINDI program, she felt empowered and decided to take on the task herself.
Through public outreach from the IMA-led USHINDI program, Yoali learned about women’s autonomy and the problems related to discrimination against women. She realized that the traditional gender roles in her community shouldn’t exist, and she decided to change her life.
Aware of the danger she would incur by fighting the cultural norms, her family’s well-being was more important to her. Yoali set out early each morning with a hatchet in her hand to gather materials, and in two months she was able to build a three-bedroom house complete with a sitting room.
Her pride outweighed the naysayers in her village who called her a sorceress.
To those who called her names and spouted discouragement, she responded, “All of you saw in what bad conditions I was living in, but not one of you thought to help me. When I decided to do the work on my own, you want to discourage me! I am going to live in this hut with my children, peacefully, and nothing bad is going to harm us.”
Stories like Yoali’s are becoming more common in the DRC as women take the first bold steps toward equality in society.
USHINDI is a five-year program designed to provide a holistic approach integrating medical, legal, psychosocial, and economic support services to survivors and those affected by Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
IMA collaborates with the Ministry of Health and several national and international non-governmental organizations, community organizations and women’s groups to provide quality care and treatment, promote equality and improve the rights and protection of women.
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