Stéphanie Mbanzendore

Individual African feminists

For the past 14 years I’ve lived in Rotterdam in Holland. I was born in Burundi where I grew up, studied and worked. I am currently the founder and President of Burundian Women for Peace and Development. Its main objectives include promoting peace and security, women’s political participation and HIV prevention. We have implemented many […]

For the past 14 years I’ve lived in Rotterdam in Holland. I was born in Burundi where I grew up, studied and worked.

I am currently the founder and President of Burundian Women for Peace and Development. Its main objectives include promoting peace and security, women’s political participation and HIV prevention. We have implemented many projects including training of 70 community leaders in conflict resolutions and the UN Resolution on 1325, as well as awareness creation on girl child education. Our organisation has also created a Centre for Peace in Burundi that also serves as our physical address in Burundi. In 2008, we were nominated for the Peace Prize and currently the organisation has been nominated by the Ministry of Gender and Human Rights in Burundi, a member of the National Steering Committee on the 1325 Resolution.

I am a feminist because I support every initiative aimed at promoting women’s participation in decision making. I would love to see women take their destiny in their hands. That explains why I passionately work for women’s empowerment through my work. The fact that patriarchal structures continue to find ways to oppress women in Burundi outrages me and fires me up such that I constantly encourage women to fight for their liberation.

African culture does not favour women’s empowerment and also most of our countries do not support women’s leadership that is evident in women’s persistent under-representation in political spaces. Furthermore, the lack of inclusion of women’s concerns in policies and laws and budgets further creates systemic barriers to women’s rights and justice.

We can only address these challenges if we build the capacities of women’s organisations through grants and support in addressing the structures of inequality. We also need to ensure adequate training for women on their rights and strengthen networks of women’s rights organisations through learning and exchange visits. The Feminist charter is one tool that we can use to help us achieve our goals. It needs to be wildly disseminated within women’s organisations, schools and government institutions as it can influence policies. It must be translated in many African languages to ensure easier access for even grassroots women

As I am committed to fight for women’s rights, I believe that I must advocate for them and I do this whenever the need arises. In many spaces I try to lobby for the respect and promotion of women’s human rights.

I draw my inspiration from my determination to work for social change, so that women can enjoy their freedom and their rights as citizens. I am also motivated by the dream that women women and men be considered as equal.


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