One of the foundational goals of Nyantende Foundation, is to empower Congolese youth through enrolling them in local elementary, secondary and post secondary schools. Specifically, the transformative power of education is particularly felt by our female students. In “An Education to Empower Women in Eastern Congo” by the Eastern Congo Initiative, they describe how education changed the life of Francine Nabintu. Born in eastern Congo, Nabintu went on to attend Christian Bilingual University of Congo. From her success at UCBC, she was soon selected for McCain Institute’s fellowship program called “Next Generation Leaders”. This program aimed at cultivating “leaders through the integration of academics, work, and service”, but more importantly changed the lives of women in the Congo. In particular, Nabintu expressed to the Eastern Congo Initiative that “education opened doors for me”. In the DRC, it is not uncommon for girls to be discouraged from going to school, or furthering their education. As described by Nabintu, “I still remember when I was a little girl how my brothers and other family members used to discourage me not to go further in education otherwise I couldn’t get married… ‘be careful you are a woman, men don’t like such behaviour’”.
For decades, gender norms have controlled women’s ability to receive an education. In the DRC, female education has been perceived to interfere with a women’s ‘duties’, and has consequently contributed to the wide gender gap in education. For instance, it is largely assumed that educating women would make them too independent, and would interrupt what they are expected to do- look after the home, raise children, and taking care of their husband’s needs. In addition to gender norms, extending women’s access to education is difficult when the cultural and monetary costs is perceived to ‘outweigh’ the benefit of educating women. A large majority of families in the DRC face economic problems, resulting in only being interested in investing their limited resources in boys rather than girls. Through subsidizing the cost of schooling, Nyantende Foundation hopes to provide both the incentive and opportunity for women to receive an education. With the opportunity to learn, especially women, Nyantende Foundation hopes that students will gain the freedom to pursue whatever goals and opportunities they desire.