Chouchou Namegabe is a Congolese activist, radio journalist, and founder and director of the organization South Kivu Women’s Media Association (AFEM in french). Ms. Namegabe trains rural and urban Congolese women as journalists specifically to report about sexual violence and human rights abuses. With her organization she uses the media to raise the awareness of rural women. According to the advocacy organization Women Deliver, who awarded her as one of the “top 100 most inspiring people delivering for girls and women”, Ms. Namegabe’s work has been “helping Congo’s women broadcast to the world.” She advocates for sustainable solutions of the conflict in Eastern DRC, targeting the causes, not the consequences. Ms. Namegabe has testified at the Hague to urge the International Court of Justice to classify rape as a political weapon in the DRC, and in Washington, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on violence against women. Ms. Namegabe met at several occasions with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to press the need for a non-partisan security force to end sexual violence in the conflict-torn region.
Specialties: Radio journalism, training, women’s empowerment and capacity building, fight against sexual and gender based violence, international advocacy, management of nonprofit orgs
Hope is physical and spiritual strength with Chouchou Namegabe #isharehope Episode 102
Summary: Chouchou ‘s answer to the five questions! Listen to the full conversation on the player above; also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud.
Question 1: How do you define hope or what is your favorite quote about hope?
Hope for me is the power that makes people believe in something better when people are in need or are struggling.
Question 2: Who has shared the most hope with you?
The most hope I got from my mother. I grew up from a very poor family. I experienced famine and malnutrition. She told me that one day I’ll have a better life and I will have all the food needed when I grow up. She worked hard for our food and education. It was the best way that I saw my hope growing.
Another person is a friend that I met when I finished high school. She is my mentor. I didn’t know I was intelligent or that I could read or do things because in an African culture, even my father showed me that girls are nothing. She taught me how to believe in myself.
Question 3: How have you used hope to make it through a difficult time in your life?
I grew up in a country where we have repetitive wars and I saw how women were suffering and I saw how the rape was used as a weapon of war. It turned my work into passion because I thought as a journalist, I didn’t have a weapon to fight…I didn’t know how to change the situation, but with colleagues and mentors, we realized we had power and we were going to use that to change the women’s situation. That’s how we created AFEM.
We created AFEM to promote women’s rights by using media. We started a big campaign against rape and sexual violence. It didn’t end the problem of rape or sexual violence, but it gave hope to women, to victims because we were giving them a voice. They couldn’t talk about it, they couldn’t denounce what happened to them because it was a shame. They didn’t know how to say it. They didn’t know to whom they could talk. We gave them our microphone – a voice to tell their story.
People started to understand that really, rape and sexual violence wasn’t just the problem of women. Some men joined us in our campaign and they understood that they should protect the women.
That’s our small story of success – that some men changed and for women, talking was their first step of healing.
Question 4: How are you sharing hope today?
I’m still working for AFEM and before I left for New York, one of my dreams that got realized was giving women their own radio station. I was working at a radio station, but we had to pay for the program to be broadcasted and it was very expensive. We wanted many people to hear the voice of women, to make women be involved into all the policies, elections, democracy processes so we wanted to have our own radio station.
The situation in Congo hasn’t changed a lot, but we are still fighting for that, making conferences for advocacies. I still hope that things will change.
It’s Ben Affleck who gave the money to start that radio for women. I’m grateful that he understood the needs of women. He respects his word. The first time I met him, I invited him to come to Congo to see the women’s problems and one year day by day he was in my office. Now he is financing that radio for women.
There’s still many to do to make it become a real tool for women to make women’s voices be heard.
Question 5: How should I (the listener) begin to grow in hope or share hope today?
(1) To talk about it is to act.
(2) Get involved in the change.