Independence of Women in the DRC: Work and Stand Out!Mar 31, 2017
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are numerous women fighting daily to improve their conditions. In the UNDP’s office, there are working some truly exceptional women, you could even say extraordinary.
Graduate in statistics, our colleague Evelyne worked several years as a general collector in an office in Kinshasa before she starting working for the UNPD as a… driver. After several years within national administration, she made the decision to quit in the hopes of finding a more stable job.
On the the advice of one of her friends, Evelyne invested in a computer with a modem so she could check out the job postings made by international organizations.
“In 2011, I felt really motivated to change career and I searched in all directions. I sent my CV for a job as a driver with the UNDP as the posting encouraged female candidates to apply. In spite of the negative comments made by my immediate surroundings, I went on with the recruitment process.
There was another candidate who spoke perfect English and I thought that they wouldn't pick me. However, confident and aware of my own capabilities, I continued with the process and I was selected!”
“Besides my responsibilities as a driver, I regularly asked the head of the protocol and travel section if he needed any help. He complained about the workload. I took advantage of the off-peak periods by accompanying him to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where I learned about nuances of the work and got a lot of contacts.
One day I had the opportunity to work interim and I secured the job, which had been noted for its hierarchy.” “Right away I assisted the strategic and politic unit in to which I had assigned as driver.
I assisted the administrative assistant and as a statistician I was able to interact with the members of the unit on data management in the development domain. This period in my career motivated me to return to my studies in order to obtain a bachelor’s degree in statistics.
The major challenge was to find a balance between work hours, family life and my studies. I really tried to finish my degree attending night classes, but I was forced to abandon the studies several times due to the conflicting hours.”
To Dare Change
“In 2016, I got the opportunity to assist the Unit for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development through the role as an administrative clerk since the colleague in question was on a leave of absence.
I learned a lot about the different activities of the UNDP and I was especially interested in the administrative tasks as well as the interaction with partners. In order to capitalize on this experience, I asked the office to formalize the interims allowing me to make use of them for future opportunities within the office.
In July 2016, I had the chance and pleasure of securing a full-time position as
administrative clerk after the departure of the incumbent of the post. Since then I’ve learned a lot about activities related to administration.
This experience allows me to meet new people and acquire technical experience in the preparation of official letters, the management of bills, the relations with partners… I feel more free than before and I’m very enthusiastic about this new job!”
“The UNDP has helped train and advance me, thinking about how I didn't know how to operate a computer in my first position. Today I feel comfortable with this tool. As a driver, I didn't know all the intricacies of the profession.
At the UNDP, I was taught about vehicle maintenance, the basics of mechanics, and car control. I was made aware of the responsibilities of the job as well as of the humility and patience it requires to be a good driver!
A lot of people in DRC do not think that the job of a driver is appropriate for a woman. It’s seen as a low-level job, the last option to ensure the education of one’s children. I personally accepted to take on this task and I regret nothing. This job allowed me to send my children to study in Europe. My six children are proud of me.
When teasing me, they usually say that the UNDP is “the United Nations Development Program for Mothers”. To this day, my fondest wish is to get my master’s degree. This promise to the studies, I will keep it and will get there!”
“I would like to say to Congolese women that with globalization it is really possible taking control of your own life! We can become independent and do more. With IT and this technological environment, a woman can advance.
On the other hand, Congolese women must reframe their own concept of being independent. Before, being successful was being dependent of a man, to be married. Now, being independent means working and fighting! Trying to stand out and making yourself useful to be successful.”
Article translated bye Jonathan Bentsen