International Women’s Day: My Neighbor, Widow Mother of 6, Won’t Celebrate


International women’s day is being celebrated today on 8th March for the 103d times. At international level, “Inspiring Change” is the theme retained; while in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) it stresses on parity for women as factor making progress for all[1]. It is a busy day around the world and an opportunity to prove that barriers are not gender embedded, rather originating from our daily practices. Unfortunately, it happens that our single and tiny actions build barriers, sometimes gender oriented, that may hamper our development in the future.

This morning, I met a widow mother of 6 and tried to understand how she considers international women’s day. She has also a busy day as usual because she has to deal solely with the burden of her family. She is the only responsible and the main provider of all basic needs for her children. Every morning, she has to wake up and find foods before her children go to school. It is a complicated task as preparing food requires using firewood. You might have drawn an experience in case you have seen or practiced such cooking technique. It is again the same technique she uses during the evening to get food prepared.

In our village[2], it requires to draw water within a distance of roughly 1.5 Km; while carrying a bucket (bottle) of 20 Kgs. Drawing water within such distance is regularly done 2-3 times per day. As she finishes dealing with preparing food and helping children for school matters, it is a time to get things washed and cleaning her home. Afterwards, around 8.30, she has to work into crop fields alone, a work that takes approximately 6-7 hours per day. The distance between village and crop fields is around 3-4 Kms. The cropping work uses hoes and machetes, from preparing terrain to yielding. The season of cropping is around 3-4 months by using the same techniques that requiring human strengths than brain. Evening time, when she returns, she has to collect firewood and then drawing water. It is overloaded busy day as if you have to manage technological company.

To get satisfied in terms of food, cropping is exercised the whole year. Since she has lost her husband in 2004 during an attack of armed groups, she has to use her strengths to feed the family of 7 people. Cropping is the only source of income through which she has to pay school materials, fees and even clothing the whole family. You wouldn’t imagine how strong and committed she is; an inspiring model that the world will hardly meet on large TV screens. She is a hero for her family and for the future of the 6 children. She deserves to be considered as source of inspiration for the change as she went beyond her frustration and managed the trauma to get the large family run.

My hero neighbor even knows people who were behind the killing of her husband but she hasn’t yet got any justice. Among the suspected killers and their invisible hands behind, some have been appointed to top ranks within the public sphere in DRC. The widow mother of 6 still reminds mistreatment, rape, sexual violence … she witnessed during different armed attacks. However, she is courageous to move forward and helping her children, either girls or boys for their future. She is calling again and again for justice or at least truth establishment of why all these things happened. It is quite unclear when the truth and justice will be established as some of responsible of atrocities are the one whom justice is sought for.

As she was busy by dealing with her daily businesses, helping her family, she told me that this is the only way of inspiring change and celebrating international women’s day. She is very aware that government support in her daily life isn’t largely reliable as she knows how these public officials get rich within a short period of time. Nevertheless, she needs social and economic justice by more or less establishing an environment that helps her to expand. We ended our discussion by agreeing that everyone’s voice and call can support victims as they are as many as counting them needs much time. They are victims of lengthy armed conflicts but also victims of a misappropriation of national resources into the hands of small group of leaders. Don’t you think my neighbor is an inspiring mum? Voice to support her

Ntanyoma R. Delphin

Twitter account @delphino12



[1] The theme in French is: Egalité pour les Femmes, c’est le Progrès pour Toutes et Tous


10 thoughts on “International Women’s Day: My Neighbor, Widow Mother of 6, Won’t Celebrate”

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