Connecting Congolese women and youth from throughout DRC to discuss issues such as leadership and organization skills, communications and message development, the unique role of women and youth in politics, and effective fundraising methods were the focus of a three-day Leadership Academy sponsored by IRI. More than 60 participants from Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi came together September 18-20, 2013, to hear presentations from regional and international experts and participate in group discussions on what constitutes a strong leader.

IRI’s Thibault Muzergues opened the academy with a review of topics discussed during IRI’s previous workshops in DRC with participants eager to share what they had learned and how they have used these new skills in their daily lives. At one point, a female lawyer from Lubumbashi recalled a presentation on the qualities of an effective leader, one of which was being able to listen. She noted that in her profession people talk frequently, so as a result of IRI’s past workshop she was encouraged to speak less and listen more to what her clients and colleagues had to say.

Following the opening session, participants were asked to gather into small groups comprised of approximately 10 individuals representing all three cities – Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi – and prepare a list of qualities that they would like to see in future leaders of DRC. An overwhelming majority of the small groups said that accountability, effective communication and responsiveness to citizens’ needs were the top leadership qualities that Congolese should demand of their leaders.

Participants also heard from Pierre Auriacombe, a successful entrepreneur and current member of the Conseil de Paris representing the 16th arrondissement. Auriacombe focused his presentations on building organizational capacity as a key to becoming an effective leader, while at the same time paying close attention to how to establish grassroots level support. On the final day of the academy, Auriacombe worked with the Congolese participants to set goals and develop action plans, some of which the participants then shared with the audience.

Pauline Kono, the deputy mayor of Limbe, Cameroon and a member of the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN), added a regional perspective to the issues of women and politics on the continent of Africa. Presenting a case study on women in Cameroon, Kono illustrated

examples of effective leadership and communication on the part of Cameroonian women and ways they can be transferred to DRC. Having experienced marginalization in their own right previously, both the women and youth participants benefited from Kono’s speeches on women’s empowerment in Africa.

Experts for the academy are a part of IRI’s Leadership and Excellence in Advanced Politics (LEAP) team, which provides volunteers for the Institute’s programs worldwide, and WDN Country Chapter in Cameroon. Currently LEAP is comprised of more than 50 highly skilled political specialists representing 26 different European countries. To-date WDN has members in more than 60 countries around the world and has chapters in 14 countries.

IRI’s work in DRC engages women and youth to develop their leadership skills so that they can more actively participate in their communities. Over the course of the past year, IRI has implemented workshops in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi that have brought together representatives from civil society organizations, government institutions and political parties, to enhance their leadership, communication and message development skills. IRI’s work in DRC is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.

Up ArrowTop