By Lorence Kabasele (DRC): 

LorenceMy name is Lorence Kabesele and I am a 23 year old young woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I believe that my virginity makes me special because it’s the first form of richness that God gave me and I’ll share it with the man who will marry me, a man who will always respect and love me. I also value the fact that I am a woman and that makes be very valuable. I am strong, and I use this strength to make a difference in the lives of other people.

I believe that I have rights as a young woman which must be respected, and that I can work as well as men do. I also agree with the statement that says ‘To educate a woman is to educate a nation’. The proof of this  is in the work I do as the Program Coordinator of Youth Club and MDGs in Kinshasa, an organization focused on empowering young people, especially young women.

Unfortunately, I live in an environment where discrimination against women is a general norm. This is mostly because of the wars we entered into as a country and the prevailing social norms which disempower women. In most parts of DRC, girls are given less opportunities to go to school as compared to boys because their education is not considered as being of importance. As a result of this, most young women do not measure up to the intellectual capacity and educational qualifications of young men which makes it difficult for them to get good jobs.

Although the environment in my country doesn’t support women’s development that much, I believe that I can still stand up and fight for this to change. I am inspired by two powerful women; Cristina Elisabet Fernández Kirchner because she’s the first woman President in Argentina, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because she’s the first female President in Africa as she leads the nation of Liberia.

As I work hard to change the lives of young women in DRC and in Africa, there are three things that are important to me in helping me succeed. The first is willingness and determination to take on challenges. The second is hope because without hope I can’t believe in myself or the work I do. The final and most significant thing is hard work which is necessary for any change to take place. The state of the world tomorrow lies in our hands to day as young people, if we don’t work hard today then what kind of world will we live in, in the next 20 years?.

For now as an individual, I’m preparing myself for my future and one important decision for me is marriage. I  always say that we don’t enter into marriage just to have children but more importantly to help each other develop by sharing advice and providing different forms of support. I also believe that I have a big role to play in building a strong home by providing finances and moulding our children socially and academically. I am convinced that I have to power to build a strong home, a powerful nation and a prosperous future for fellow young women.