Clémentine Ndeke


Clémentine Ndeke was born in Goma in North-Kivu, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. As an adolescent, she was forced to leave her hometown as events in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide embroiled the Eastern part of the DRC in armed conflict. She went to live with her older brother in Equator province, now called Mongala, in the West of the country, to pursue her studies.

In 1998, with the DRC engulfed by conflicts with neightboring states and rebel groups, Clémentine Ndeke was separated from her parents and had to depend on her older brother and her sister-in-law for shelter and safety to survive the two Congo Wars. She worked with her sister-in-law in selling palm oil and making soaps (kibola-bola in her language) which she sold in local markets to pay for food for her family and for her own education.

In 2002, after reunification of the country, she went to Kinshasa where she obtained her State diploma in General Education. She then pursued studies at the Université Ouverte of Kinshasa, where she obtained her undergraduate degree in Nursing Sciences. Two years later, she earned a degree in Public Health. Beginning in 2011, when she returned to North-Kivu, she worked with humanitarian organisations in various areas such as reproductive health in the training of women and girls. She also trains nurses in issues of sexual and reproductive health, including the prevention of gender violence.

Today, she works as as a Program Manager in PAF-AFRICA, where she integrates women’s protection and autonomy with nutrition projects and food security. Recognizing the vulnerability of women and young girls in conflict areas, Clementine promotes women's rights and socio-economic autonomy. On the professional level, she encourages women to fight for their rights and helps to build their capacity and competence in conflict management.

At Visiki village, in Beni, North-Kivu, with her limited means, Clementine trains more than 40 rural women called "Femmes de Valeur » , Valued Women, in agricultural activities (production of vegetables).

l sometimes ask myself : When will we smile ? When will we rejoice in our rights as women? Yet, when I look at my journey through these years of war in my country, and recall my own strength in surviving and becoming what I am today, I realize that we have the capacity and resilience to change things. Recognizing our strength is the key to our blossoming.

Why is gender violence rarely if ever targeted with effective countermeasures such as UN sanctions resolutions or other powerful policy and development decisions?